Psychological and organisational determinants of career success amongst women academics in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM)

Lim, Hooi Shan (2020) Psychological and organisational determinants of career success amongst women academics in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM). PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) fields are commonly known to be male-dominated. The additional occupational challenges arising from the traditional roles of women in family and childcare are thereby thought to be compounded for women working in these fields. This thesis assessed the psychological and organisational factors impacting on the career success (research productivity, teaching performance, and career advancement) of women academics working in STEMM fields in Malaysia.

The first phase of the research employed a qualitative method to explore success amongst STEMM women academics from all research universities (RUs) in Malaysia. The participants took part in semi-structured interviews that investigated the meaning of success as well as the psychological and organisational barriers and means of support in achieving career success. One model emerged to address the research questions, containing two overarching themes: personal and psychological factors (e.g. relationship-related, motherhood and childcare, and gender-related challenges and means of support), and job demands and resources (e.g. family-friendly policies or facilities, unprofessional workplace behaviours, barriers and means of support relating to research, teaching and promotion, recognition, and support from colleagues, supervisor or higher management). The cultural dimensions of collectivist culture and power distance appeared to influence the meaning of success and these two themes.

The second phase combined the Job Demands-Resources model (JD-R) with the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) to the study of STEMM academics at the RUs in Malaysia. At the psychological level, factors such as person variables (i.e. age and seniority), self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and interest, are being explored in relation to career success. At the organisational level, the research investigated the impact of job demands and resources on career success. The combination of JD-R and SCCT led to the creation of a model where a number of independent variables (grouped into person variables and environment variables) were hypothesised to predict a number of outcome variables (grouped into research productivity, teaching performance, and career advancement) with self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and interest (in research, teaching, and career advancement) as mediators. Gender was hypothesised to be a moderator in all the resulting moderated mediations. Findings revealed that the participants showed a good fit to the combined JD-R model and SCCT when the independent variables were recognition, support from colleagues and family-work conflict. Gender was in evidence amongst the participants as a significant moderator in some of these mediated relationships. Job demands (i.e. work-family conflict and family-work conflict) negatively affected outcome expectations for teaching and interest in teaching, only amongst women. On the other hand, recognition and supervisor support and feedback could improve research-related variables, only amongst men.

Theoretical and practical implications, limitations of the research, and possible future research directions to understand the gendered experience of academics in STEMM were discussed. More theories should be explored or incorporated into the model to investigate its suitability and to discover additional supporting and hindering factors for STEMM women academics’ career success.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: De Pretto, Laura
Valencia, Marshall
Keywords: career success, STEMM, Job Demands-Resources model (JD-R), Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT), GST, women academics, gender, psychological factors
Subjects: H Social sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Division of Organisational and Applied Psychology
Item ID: 60884
Depositing User: LIM, HOOI SHAN
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2020 04:40
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2023 10:27

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