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Policies that make a difference: bridging the gender equity and work-family gap in academia

Katharine Ridgway O'Brien (Department of Psychology, Rice University, Houston, Texas, United States)
Larry R. Martinez (School of Hospitality, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)
Enrica N. Ruggs (Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
Jan Rinehart (ADVANCE Program, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Michelle R Hebl (Department of Psychology, Rice University, Houston, Texas, United States)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 6 July 2015




This paper aims to highlight interventions that promote female (and male) faculty’s ability to balance work-family issues at a specific academic institution, in response to a demand in the literature that examines the intersection between research and implementation of organizational policies within a university setting.


Using a case study framework, the researchers present qualitative experiences and quantitative data to evaluate the successful application of a work-family balance and organizational climate improvement initiative within an academic setting.


By highlighting specific examples of work-family and climate initiatives at the individual, organization, and community levels, this case study presents several ways in which academic institutions specifically, and organizations generally, can implement policies that make a difference.

Practical implications

Successful implementation of work-family balance and family-friendly organizational policies can positively impact employees.


Our goal is to highlight and provide data showing a specific example of how female (and male) faculty members’ experiences can be (and have been) improved in a prototype institution.



This research was supported by NSF ADVANCE IT Grant 0542562 to Rice University. The authors would like to thank Jan Rinehart, Paula Sanders, Kathy Matthews and Julia Amborski for their assistance and support in this research.


O'Brien, K.R., Martinez, L.R., Ruggs, E.N., Rinehart, J. and Hebl, M.R. (2015), "Policies that make a difference: bridging the gender equity and work-family gap in academia", Gender in Management, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 414-426.



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