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How Ideal Worker Norms Shape Work-Life for Different Constituent Groups in Higher Education: New Directions for Higher Education, Number 176

How Ideal Worker Norms Shape Work-Life for Different Constituent Groups in Higher Education: New Directions for Higher Education, Number 176

Lisa Wolf-Wendel (Editor), Kelly Ward (Editor), Amanda M. Kulp (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-119-34757-6

Jan 2017, Jossey-Bass

112 pages

In Stock



Work and family concerns are increasingly on the radar of colleges and universities. These concerns emerge out of workplace norms suggesting that for employees and students to be successful, they must be “ideal workers”.

This volume explores work norms in higher education, focusing on the ways that employees and students interpret and experience ideal worker expectations in light of family responsibilities. Chapters address how the ideal worker norms vary for tenured and non-tenure track faculty, administrators, undergraduate and graduate students, and offers recommendations for modifying work norms to promote work-family balance for all constituents.

This is the 176th volume of the Jossey-Bass quarterly report series New Directions for Higher Education. Addressed to presidents, vice presidents, deans, and other higher education decision makers on all kinds of campuses, it provides timely information and authoritative advice about major issues and administrative problems confronting every institution.

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Lisa Wolf-Wendel, Kelly Ward, Amanda Kulp

1. Academic Motherhood: Mid-Career Perspectives and the Ideal Worker Norm 11
Kelly Ward, Lisa Wolf-Wendel

Based on a longitudinal, qualitative study, this chapter explores how mid-career tenured women faculty members, who are mothers and academics, manage multiple roles. The researchers use life-course perspectives and feminist theory to challenge ideal worker norms and institutional contexts that support such norms.

2. Contingent Faculty as Nonideal Workers 25
Adrianna Kezar, Samantha Bernstein-Sierra

Drawing on an analysis of existing literature, this chapter examines how work norms and work-life concerns affect the growing number of non-tenure track faculty. The chapter demonstrates the importance of understanding the diversity of contingent faculty experiences and of underemployment to explain their work lives rather than notions of the ideal worker.

3. Work-Life Balance and Ideal Worker Expectations for Administrators 37
Kelly E. Wilk

This chapter focuses on the work-life experiences of male and female administrators at a private, doctoral institution where ideal worker norms constrained administrator behavior.

4. Ideal for Whom? A Cultural Analysis of Ideal Worker Norms in Higher Education and Student Affairs Graduate Programs 53
Margaret W. Sallee

Focusing on graduate student-parents in higher education and student affairs master’s degree programs, the researcher considers how programmatic structures and interactions with faculty and peers reflect and reproduce a culture across graduate programs that privileges the norm of the always-working student.

5. Undergraduate Single Mothers’ Experiences in Postsecondary Education 69
Sydney Beeler

This chapter looks at how undergraduate single mothers navigate ideal student expectations. The author reviews current literature to explore how single mothers are counter to “ideal student” norms and presents policy and best practice recommendations.

6. The Effects of Parenthood During Graduate School on PhD Recipients’ Paths to the Professoriate: A Focus on Motherhood 81
Amanda M. Kulp

Based on a quantitative national study of doctoral degree recipients, the researcher focuses on the career-related resources doctoral students attain during graduate school and the influence of those resources on PhD-earning mothers’ attainment of tenure-track faculty jobs at U.S. higher-education institutions.

7. Complexity of Work-Life Identities and Policy Development: Implications for Work-Life in Higher Education 97
Jaime Lester

The final chapter integrates the themes throughout the chapters to explore what ideal worker norms mean for future research, policy, and practice. The author offers research and policy recommendations related to the groups discussed throughout the volume to provide a path forward for colleges and universities wanting to attract and retain a diverse student body and workforce.