Skip to main content Accessibility help

Job Satisfaction in Academia: Why Are Some Faculty Members Happier Than Others?

  • Vicki L. Hesli (a1) and Jae Mook Lee (a2)


In studying the correlates of job satisfaction among political science faculty we confirm some findings from other disciplines, such as the relationship between institutional type and satisfaction. We demonstrate that those working in top-ranked departments or in private institutions tend to have higher levels of satisfaction with their jobs and with their contributions to the profession. Both job satisfaction and professional satisfaction tend to be highest among full professors; and greater productivity in terms of publishing is independently linked to greater levels of professional satisfaction. In contrast, comparatively higher undergraduate teaching loads undermine professional satisfaction. We also determine that men and women do not differ systematically from one another in their satisfaction levels. We do, however, document significantly lower levels of satisfaction among racial minorities in political science departments. In exploring this finding, we uncover reports of discrimination and dramatic differences in levels of collegiality experienced by different subgroups of faculty members. Experiences with discrimination undermine job satisfaction and are more frequently reported by women than men and are more common among minority faculty than nonminorities.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Job Satisfaction in Academia: Why Are Some Faculty Members Happier Than Others?
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Job Satisfaction in Academia: Why Are Some Faculty Members Happier Than Others?
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Job Satisfaction in Academia: Why Are Some Faculty Members Happier Than Others?
      Available formats



Hide All
Aguirre, A. 2000. “Women and Minority Faculty in the Academic Workplace: Recruitment, Retention and Academic Culture.” ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report 27 (6). Washington. DC: American Association for Higher Education.
Aisenberg, N., and Harrington, M.. 1988. Women of Academe: Outsiders in the Sacred Grove. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
Antonio, A. L., Cress, C. M., and Astin, A. W.. 1997. “Faculty Diversity: Faculty of Color Still Low in Numbers and Ranking: But Latino/as Report High Job Satisfaction.” The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education 7 (26): 14.
August, L., and Waltman, J.. 2004. “Culture, Climate, and Contribution: Career Satisfaction among Female Faculty.” Research in Higher Education 45: 177–92.
Austin, H., and Davis, D.. 1985. “Research Productivity across the Life and Career Cycles: Facilitators and Barriers for Women.” In Scholarly Writing and Publishing: Issues, Problems and Solutions, ed. Fox, M. F., 147160. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Bender, K. A., and Heywood, John S.. 2009. “Educational Mismatch among Ph.D.s: Determinants and Consequences.” In Science and Engineering Careers in the United States: An Analysis of Markets and Employment, eds. Freeman, R. B. and Goroff, D. L.. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Bender, Keith A., and Heywood, John S.. 2006. “Job Satisfaction of the Highly Educated.” Scottish Journal of Political Economy 53 (2): 253–79.
Bilimoria, D., Perry, S. R., Liang, X., Stoller, E. P., Higgins, P., and Taylor, C.. 2006. “How Do Female and Male Faculty Members Construct Job Satisfaction? The Roles of Perceived Institutional Leadership and Mentoring and Their Mediating Processes.” Journal of Technology Transfer 31: 355.
Blackburn, R. T., and Lawrence, J. H.. 1995. Faculty at Work: Motivation, Expectation, Satisfaction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Bronstein, P. 1993. “Challenges, Rewards, and Costs for Feminist and Ethnic Minority Scholars.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 53: 6170.
Bronstein, P., and Farnsworth, L.. 1998. “Gender Differences in Faculty Experiences of Interpersonal Climate and Processes for Advancement.” Research in Higher Education 39 (5): 557–85.
Bryson, R., Bryson, J. B., and Johnson, M. F.. 1978. “Family Size, Satisfaction, and Productivity in Dual-Career Couples.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 3 (1): 6777.
California News Reel (Producer). 1996. Shattering the Silences: Minorities Break into the Ivory Tower [Motion picture]. United States.
Callister, R. R. 2006. “The Impact of Gender and Department Climate on Job Satisfaction and Intentions to Quit for Faculty in Science and Engineering Fields.” Journal of Technology Transfer 31: 367375.
Carnevale, D. G., and Rios, J. M.. 1995. “How Employees Assess the Quality of Physical Work Settings.” Public Productivity and Management Review 18: 221–31.
Carr, P. L., and Ash, A. S.. 1998. “Relation of Family Responsibilities and Gender to the Productivity and Career Satisfaction of Medical Faculty.” Annals of Internal Medicine 129: 532–38.
Cetin, M. O. 2006. “The Relationship between Job Satisfaction, Occupational and Organizational Commitment of Academics.” Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge 8 (1): 7888.
Ethington, C. A., Smart, J. C., and Zeltman, M. L.. 1989. “Institutional and Departmental Satisfaction of Women Faculty.” Research in Higher Education 30: 261–71.
Garza, H. 1993. “Second-Class Academics: Chicano/Latino Faculty in U.S. Universities.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 53: 3341.
Gruneberg, M. M. 1979. Understanding Job Satisfaction. London: The Macmillan Press Ltd.
Hagedorn, L. S. 1996. “Wage Equity and Female Faculty Job Satisfaction: The Role of Wage Differentials in a Job.” Research in Higher Education 37 (5): 569–98.
Hagedorn, L. S. 2000. “Conceptualizing Faculty Job Satisfaction: Components, Theories, and Outcomes.” New Directions for Institutional Research 105: 520.
Herzberg, F., Mausner, B., and Snyderman, B.. 1959. The Motivation to Work (2nd rev. ed.). New York: Wiley.
Hesli, Vicki, and Burrell, Barbara. 1995. “Faculty Rank among Political Scientists and Reports on the Academic Environment: The Differential Impact of Gender on Observed Patterns.” PS: Political Science and Politics 28 (2): 101–11.
Hesli, Vicki, DeLaat, Jacqueline, Youde, Jeremy, Mendez, Jeanette, and Lee, Sang-shin. 2006. “Success in Graduate School and After: Survey Results from the Midwest Region.” PS: Political Science and Politics 39 (2): 317–25.
Hesli, Vicki, Fink, Evelyn C., and Duffy, Diane. 2003. “The Role of Faculty in Creating a Positive Graduate Student Experience: Survey Results from the Midwest Region, Part II.” PS: Political Science and Politics 36 (4): 801–04.
Hesli, Vicki, Lee, Jae Mook, and Mitchell, Sara. 2012. “Predicting Rank Attainment in Political Science: What Else Besides Publications Affects Promotion?PS: Political Science & Politics 45 (3): 475–92.
Holder, J. C., and Vaux, A.. 1998. “African American Professionals: Coping with Occupational Stress in Predominantly White Work Environments.” Journal of Vocational Behavior 53 (3): 315–33.
Honaker, J., King, Gary, and Blackwell, M.. 2011. Amelia II: A Program for Missing Data. Accessed on July 18, 2011.
Hult, C., Callister, R. R., and Sullivan, K.. 2005. “Is There a Global Warming toward Women in Academia?Liberal Education 91: 5057.
Johnsrud, L. K., and Jarlais, C. D. Des. 1994. “Barriers to the Retention and Tenure of Women and Minorities: The Case of a University's Faculty.” Review of Higher Education 17: 335–53.
Kalleberg, A. 1977. “Work Values and Job Rewards: A Theory of Job Satisfaction.” American Sociological Review 42 (1): 124–43.
Ladson-Billings, G. 1997. “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Academy's Not Enough: Reflections of an African American Woman Scholar.” In Learning from Our lives: Women, Research, and Autobiography in Education, eds. Neumann, A. and Peterson, P.. New York: Teachers College Press.
Lahey, K. E., and Vihtelic, J. L.. 2000. “Finance Faculty Demographics, Career History, Diversity, and Job Satisfaction.” Financial Practice and Education 10 (1): 111–22.
Leung, T., Siu, O., and Spector, P. E.. 2000. “Faculty Stressors, Job Satisfaction, and Psychological Distress among University Teachers in Hong Kong: The Role of Locus of Control.” International Journal of Stress Management 7: 121–38.
Liu, M. C. 2001. “The Adaptation and Experience of Foreign-Born Faculty Members in the United States.” PhD Thesis, Claremont Graduate University.
Niemann, Y. F., and Dovidio, J. F.. 1998. “Relationship of Solo Status, Academic Rank, and Perceived Distinctiveness to Job Satisfaction of Racial/Ethnic Minorities.” Journal of Applied Psychology 83 (1): 5571.
Okpara, J. O., Squillace, M., and Erondu, E. A.. 2005. “Gender Differences and Job Satisfaction: A Study of University Teachers in the United States.” Women in Management Review 20 (3-4): 177–90.
Olsen, D., Maple, S. A., and Stage, F. K.. 1995. “Women and Minority Faculty Job Satisfaction: Professional Role Interests, Professional Satisfactions, and Institutional Fit.” The Journal of Higher Education 66 (3): 267–93.
Oshagbemi, T. 1997. “Job Satisfaction Profiles of University Teachers.” Journal of Managerial Psychology 12 (1): 2739.
Peterson, N. B., Friedman, R. H., Ash, A. S., Franco, S., and Carr, P. L.. 2004. “Faculty Self-Reported Experience with Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in Academic Medicine.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 19 (3): 259–65.
Ponjuan, L. 2005. “Understanding the Work Lives of Faculty of Color: Job Satisfaction, Perception of Climate, and Intention to Leave.” Dissertation Abstracts International 66(08-A), UMI No. AAT3186734.
Rosser, V. J. 2004. “Faculty Members' Intentions to Leave: A National Study on Their Worklife and Satisfaction.” Research in Higher Education 45 (3): 223–34.
Rosser, V. J. 2005. “Measuring the Change in Faculty Perceptions over Time: An Examination of Their Worklife and Satisfaction.” Research in Higher Education 46 (1): 81107.
Sabharwal, M., and Corley, E. A.. 2009. “Faculty Job Satisfaction across Gender and Discipline.” The Social Science Journal 46: 539–56.
Schmidt, B. M., and Chingos, M. M.. 2007. “Ranking Doctoral Programs by Placement: A New Method,PS: Political Science and Politics 40 (3): 523–29.
Seifert, T., and Umbach, P.. 2008. “The Effects of Faculty Demographic Characteristics and Disciplinary Context on Dimensions of Job Satisfaction.” Research in Higher Education 49: 357–81.
Settles, I. H., Cortina, L. M., Malley, J., and Stewart, A. J.. 2006. “The Climate for Women in Academic Science: The Good, the Bad, and the Changeable.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 30: 4758.
Smart, J. 1990. “A Causal Model of Faculty Turnover Intentions.” Research in Higher Education 31 (5): 405–24.
Sorcinelli, M. D., and Austin, A. E., eds. 1992. “Developing New and Junior Faculty,” New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No. 50. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Sousa-Poza, A., and Sousa-Poza, A. A.. 2000. “Taking Another Look at the Gender/Job-Satisfaction Paradox.” Kyklos 53: 135–52.
Tack, M. W., and Patitu, C. L.. 1992. Faculty Job Satisfaction: Women and Minorities in Peril. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report no. 4. Washington, DC: Association for the Study of Higher Education.
Tomz, Michael, Wittenberg, Jason, and King, Gary. 2003. “CLARIFY: Software for Interpreting and Presenting Statistical Results.” Journal of Statistical Software 8 (1).
Turner, C. S. V., and Myers, S.. 2000. Faculty of Color in Academe: Bittersweet Success. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
US Department of Education (a). Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, “Table 266: Full-time and part-time faculty and instructional staff in degree-granting institutions, by race/ethnicity, sex, and program area: Fall 1998 and fall 2003” at
US Department of Education (b). National Center for Education Statistics. 2004 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF:04).
Ward, M. E., and Sloane, P. J.. 2000. “Non-Pecuniary Advantages versus Pecuniary Disadvantages: Job Satisfaction among Male and Female Academics in Scottish Universities.” Scottish Journal of Political Economy 47 (3): 273303.

Job Satisfaction in Academia: Why Are Some Faculty Members Happier Than Others?

  • Vicki L. Hesli (a1) and Jae Mook Lee (a2)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.