Fleeing the Ivory Tower: Gender Differences in the Turnover Experiences of Women Faculty

Published In

Journal of Women's Health

Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose: Prior research has established that women and men faculty have different experiences in their professional and personal lives and that academic turnover can be costly and disruptive to home institutions. However, relatively little research has examined gender differences in the antecedent events that contributed to faculty members' voluntary turnover decisions. This study aims to fill this gap. Materials and Methods: Qualitative and quantitative data were obtained in two ways: by directly contacting faculty members who had voluntarily left their positions through the human resource departments at six institutions and through more wide-scale snowball sampling. The surveys, administered via paper or web based, measured the extent to which participants' experiences with harassment/discrimination, family-related issues, and recruitment/retention offers impacted their decisions to leave. Qualitative data were coded by raters into numerical values, and mean differences based on gender were assessed for these and the quantitative data. Results: Both the qualitative and quantitative data suggest that female academicians reported experiencing significantly more gender-based harassment/discrimination, were much more likely to cite family-related reasons for leaving, and reported receiving significantly fewer external job offers and internal retention offers than their male counterparts. Conclusions: Academic science departments should be keenly aware of and strive to reduce instances of harassment/discrimination against female academicians, offer more support for family-related issues and encourage faculty to take advantage of these programs, and conduct search and retention efforts fairly regardless of faculty gender.


Copyright 2017, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.



Persistent Identifier