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

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Zambrana, R. E., Hardaway, C. R., & Neubauer, L. C. (2022). Beyond role strain: Work–family sacrifice among underrepresented minority faculty. Journal of Marriage and Family, 84(5), 1469–1486.


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.