Retaining U.S. stem women faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic: the important role of family-supportive supervisor behaviors to lower work-to-life conflict

Katie M. Lawson, Soomi Lee, Claire Smith, Kelsey C. Thiem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic may negatively impact the careers of U.S. women faculty in computer science (CS) – a field with few women and high attrition rates among women – due to difficulties balancing increased work and family demands (author citation). Thus, it is important to understand whether supervisors may help to decrease this work-to-life conflict and increase the odds of retaining women faculty. This study examined whether family-supportive supervisor behaviors (FSSB) were associated with better retention-related job outcomes (e.g., lower turnover intentions) among women faculty in CS, and whether this association was mediated by lower work-to-life conflict. Design/methodology/approach: A total of 379 CS faculty across the U.S. (54% women, 52% with children at home) were surveyed during the COVID-19 pandemic (Fall 2020-Spring 2021). Findings: Compared to men, women CS faculty reported significantly higher work-to-life conflict, and that higher work-to-life conflict predicted poorer retention-related work outcomes for all faculty. However, for women only, FSSB predicted lower levels of work-to-life conflict, and in turn, better retention-related work outcomes. Practical implications: Results suggest that emotionally-supportive supervisor behaviors may lower work-to-life conflict during the pandemic, which has important implications for retention-related work outcomes among women faculty in CS. Originality/value: Research has yet to disentangle how managers can help to retain women CS faculty in light of the increasing and changing work and home demands due to the pandemic. The present study focused on whether FSSB – particularly emotional support – may benefit women CS faculty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-70
Number of pages19
JournalGender in Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 23 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)

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