The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, a research consortium based at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, conducted a survey of its member institutions about junior faculty satisfaction. As part of the project, researchers interviewed 16 faculty members born between 1964 and 1980, the cohort known as Generation X.
Although the sample size was small, it included faculty in fields as diverse as medicine and theater and roles from professor to provost. The surprising conclusion was that Gen X faculty perceive no clash in generational cultures in the workplace. They certainly prioritize differently than older colleagues, but they share a commitment to excellence in scholarship and institutional loyalty.
The area where Xers may stand out the most is their struggle to balance work and life. Dual-career couples and parents feel the pinch acutely. They do not expect their universities to solve the problem, but they welcome programs to mitigate the stress. These programs should have as their goals mentoring, community-building, and collegiality. In, this way, Gen X is leading the way for improving the work environment for all faculty.