Beyond role strain: Work–family sacrifice among underrepresented minority faculty

Ruth Enid Zambrana*, Cecily R. Hardaway, Leah C. Neubauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study describes the perceived work demands and family caregiving obligations associated with work–family life among URM faculty and the coping strategies used to negotiate the integration of roles. Background: Past research on families focuses primarily on professional majority-culture families and often fails to include traditionally and historically underrepresented minority (URM) families. The study of how URM professionals negotiate work and family obligations and economic and institutional constraints remains relatively absent in the family science discourse. Method: In-depth individual and group interviews (N = 58) were conducted with US-born African American, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican faculty at research universities. Results: The overarching theorizing anchor that grounded the themes was sacrifice. Three themes emerged: excessive work demands/role strain; commitments and caregiving obligations to family of origin and nuclear family; and few coping strategies and resources to maintain a balanced life. Conclusion: This analysis offers insight into the multiple factors that affect the experiences of URM academics in their workplaces that deeply influence work roles and self-care and its impact on family roles. These data fill a gap by applying alternative frameworks to explore the work–family nexus among racialized groups. Implications: New research frontiers are offered to study the work–family nexus for URM faculty and how higher education can respond to alleviate excessive work demands and work–family life conflicts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1469-1486
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • African Americans
  • Hispanic/Latino/a
  • academia
  • caretaking
  • social class
  • work–family issues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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