Family Friendly Policies in STEM Departments: Awareness and Determinants

Xuhong Su, Barry Bozeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Focused on academic departments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in the United States, we attempt to map department chairs’ awareness of family friendly policies and investigate possible determinants of their knowledge levels. Based on a sample of STEM department chairs in American research universities, we find that chairs only have limited knowledge of family friendly policies and face different incentives and constraints in pursuing more. Chairs prove more committed to family friendly policies if departments embrace a diversity strategy. Those aspiring to move up in the administrative hierarchy are more likely to champion policies of unpaid family leave, spousal hiring assistance and workload reduction for family reasons, whereas female chairs advocate more of family leave and onsite childcare policies. Departments self-assessed with less desirable status prove more knowledgeable about spousal employment assistance policy. We call for contingent understanding of family friendly policies and conclude the study by discussing research implications and developing policy recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)990-1009
Number of pages20
JournalResearch in Higher Education
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Department chairs
  • Family friendly policies
  • STEM fields

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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