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Strategies for Balance: Examining How Parents of Color Navigate Work and Life in the Academy

The Work-Family Interface: Spillover, Complications, and Challenges

ISBN: 978-1-78769-112-4, eISBN: 978-1-78769-111-7

Publication date: 29 October 2018


Research indicates that faculty of color in the United States face numerous challenges in the academy. To complicate their experiences further, children significantly impact academics’ work. Additional difficulties can arise in balancing work with familial responsibilities. Indeed, strategies to navigate parental obligations while engaging in professional activities are seldom examined among minority parents, across genders and institution types. In response, the current study investigates the intersectionality of race, gender, and parenthood on navigating a work–life balance in academia. This study examines 13 male and female minority parents from an array of institutions and explores their strategies for navigating professional advancement while managing familial obligations.

Our data suggest that parents of color often develop timesaving strategies to complete their work more efficiently. However, in order to do so, they tend to engage in professional and social isolation and to recalibrate personal expectations of work and accomplishments. Of importance, the study uncovered significant gender differences. While fathers faced comparable challenges, the findings indicate that familial responsibilities can disadvantage women more so by impacting their ability to foster professional relationships and potentially harm their emotional well-being. While most faculty of color face difficulties in the workplace, we argue that those with children, especially mothers, face additional challenges that should be addressed by home institutions to foster more equitable opportunities for professional growth.



Novich, M. and Garcia-Hallett, J. (2018), "Strategies for Balance: Examining How Parents of Color Navigate Work and Life in the Academy", Blair, S.L. and Obradović, J. (Ed.) The Work-Family Interface: Spillover, Complications, and Challenges (Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, Vol. 13), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 157-184.



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