Perspectives on "career and family" alternatives for female engineering faculty

Saeed Moaveni*, Deborah Nykanen, Karen Chou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


It is well established that female faculty represent a small percentage of the total faculty in engineering departments. It is also well known that engineering programs need to find solutions to increase their number of female faculty. Academic careers are demanding, specially, in the earlier years when a lot is expected of young tenure-track faculty. For those female faculty members who also would like to start a family, the demand of a full-time academic career forces them to choose between devoting time to family or pursuing professional goals. Often, the question becomes, start a family or get tenured? Male faculty, on the other hand, are less likely to face this dilemma. Moreover, most administrators are male who do not fully understand the need to accommodate female faculty. A young bright female faculty whom we hired for our new civil engineering program was facing this dilemma: family or career? The choice for our program was then to lose a highly talented educator or find an arrangement whereby she could start her family and contribute to the success of the program at the same time. In this paper, we discuss the arrangement that was made approximately four years ago. Our young female faculty, who has started a family with two children and a third on the way, is now teaching and conducting research half-time and performing admirably. Two years ago, she won "the excellence in teaching award" in our college of nearly 140 faculty, and last year she was awarded tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. In this paper, we offer perspectives by the former department chair (male) and the faculty member. We present our perspectives on the benefits, challenges, and the limitations of the arrangement and suggest ways to improve similar future arrangements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Event2009 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2009Jun 17 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

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