African American Counselor Educators' Job Satisfaction and Perceptions of Departmental Racial Climate

By Holcomb-McCoy, Cheryl; Addison-Bradley, Carla | Counselor Education and Supervision, September 2005 | Go to article overview

African American Counselor Educators' Job Satisfaction and Perceptions of Departmental Racial Climate


Holcomb-McCoy, Cheryl, Addison-Bradley, Carla, Counselor Education and Supervision


Forty-eight African American counselor educators completed the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire-Short Form (D. J. Weiss, R. V. Dawis, G. W. England, & L. H. Lofquist, 1967), the Racial Climate Scale (R. J. Watts & R. T. Carter, 1991). and a biodata questionnaire. Results indicated that African American counselor educators' perceptions of departmental racial climate predicted their level of job satisfaction. However, African American counselor educators' job satisfaction was not related to their academic rank and tenure status. Implications for counselor education and future research are discussed.

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Faculty-of-color experience the work environment of college campuses very differently from nonminority or White faculty (Johnsrud & Des Jarlais, 1994; Turner & Myers, 2000). This difference stems from the legacy of racial discrimination in predominately White higher education environments, which have historically served the interests and experiences of White male faculty (Aguirre, 2000). Racial discrimination against faculty-of-color may include restricted opportunities, differential assignment of tasks, increased service activities, restricted opportunities for leadership roles, social isolation, and the devaluation of research focusing on women and ethnic minorities (Harvey & Scott-James, 1985; Turner & Myers, 2000). In a national study that used survey data from 33,986 university faculty respondents, Astin, Antonio, Cress, and Astin (1997) found that faculty-of-color were twice as likely as White faculty to identify subtle racial discrimination as a source of stress.

Research on the quality of life for faculty-of-color indicates that job satisfaction is an important variable to examine (Palepu, Carr, Friedman, Ash, & Moskowitz, 2000; Thomas, 1995). Job satisfaction, as described by the Theory of Work Adjustment (Dawis, England, & Lofquist, 1964), is the way in which the person and environmental factors interact to predict an employee's satisfaction with his or her job. More simply put, job satisfaction is "the extent to which people like (satisfaction) or dislike (dissatisfaction) their jobs" (Spector, 1997, p. 2). Prominent researchers of job satisfaction suggest that job satisfaction can be measured either globally or in dimensions such as one's satisfaction with pay, supervision, benefits, promotion opportunities, working conditions, coworkers, or organizational practices (Griffin & Bateman, 1986).

Job satisfaction can also be conceptualized as an attitude that develops in response to social cues and work conditions (Griffin & Bateman, 1986). Such cues may be differentially interpreted, depending on differences in the experiences and the attributional styles of individuals' racial/ethnic backgrounds. For instance, Milliken and Martins (1996) found that people who differ from the majority race in organizations may experience less positive emotional responses to their employing organizations. In relation to university faculty, Liemann and Dovidio (1998) examined the job satisfaction of psychology faculty at institutions accredited by the American Psychological Association. They found that among the 435 faculty surveyed, faculty-of-color reported lower levels of job satisfaction than their White counterparts, especially when they were the only minority faculty member in a department.

Two variables that might possibly relate to the job satisfaction of faculty-of-color are tenure status and academic rank. In general, tenured faculty members have been reported to be more satisfied with their jobs than were nontenured faculty members, as measured with subscales of the Job Descriptive Index (Tack & Patitu, 1992) and the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (Nussel, Wiersma, & Rusche, 1988). Other research has found that full professors reported the highest levels of job satisfaction and assistant professors reported the lowest (Steene, Guinipero, & Newgren, 1985). …

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