Women Faculty and Agency

I study ways in which women faculty assume agentic perspectives, and take agentic actions to achieve career goals, balance work and family, and pursue meaningful careers and work despite and amidst gendered organizational practices and environments. While there is clearly an extant body of work that has documented the disparities that grow between men and women faculty within gendered organizations, there is only a limited body of work that has systematically addressed the ways in which women take agency.

Toward this end, my research has revealed women leveraging agentic perspectives as navigational tools amid inequitable, gendered dynamics. Examining the role such perspectives play in women’s careers shows the possibilities of agentic perspective-taking as women “lean in” to overcome gendered practices in career advancement, as well as the limitations of that agency when universities do not “lean back” with accountability for eliminating gendered practices (Sandberg, 2013). This research has also considered specific aspects of department environments, policies, faculty development programs and networks, ways of organizing work, and other organizational factors that scaffold faculty agency.

Select Articles

O'Meara, K. (2015). A Career with a View: Agentic perspectives of women faculty. Journal of Higher Education, 86(3), 331-359.

Terosky, A., O’Meara, K., & Campbell, C. (2014). Enabling Possibility: Women Associate Professors' Sense of Agency in Career Advancement. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 7(1), 58-76.

Campbell, C., & O’Meara, K. (2013). Faculty agency: Departmental contexts that matter in faculty careers. Research in Higher Education, 54(4), 49-74.

O’Meara, K. & Campbell, C. M. (2011). Faculty sense of agency in decisions about work and family. Review of Higher Education, 34(3), 447-476.


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