According to the study, there may be differences in job satisfaction among untenured faculty in different disciplines at research universities (physical science professors are the happiest). There are also differences in job satisfaction levels between men and women within a particular discipline. The biggest gap is in the social sciences.
The study didn't ask faculty why they were answering survey questions the way they did. Any explanations presented in media reports are from interviews with people musing about the results of the study.
For example, in the Inside Higher Ed article on the report, there is an interview with Rosanna Hertz, the Classes of 1919-50 Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies at Wellesley College and "a member of the Council of the American Sociological Association and .. that board's liaison to the association's Committee on the Status of Women in Sociology."
She describes how she has seen:
.. frustration among junior faculty about the tenure process. "Many say that they don't understand the tenure criteria," she said. "They ask 'Do I need a book? How many articles do I need?' They want to quantify it in a way that's not always quantifiable."
A Huffington Post article, which links to and cites the Inside Higher Ed article, summarizes this point as:
Pursuit of tenure often stumps female instructors who wonder what exactly it takes.
In fact, Professor Hertz didn't single out women faculty in her statement, but since we are trying to figure out why the women are so unhappy, I guess we can ignore the confused men for now.
Hartz also notes that faculty in the physical and biological sciences typically work together in labs and therefore have a lot of contact with other people. Social sciences faculty, however, may be more isolated. For junior faculty, therefore, particularly those who would like some guidance, "it can be more difficult to chart a path".
Without any context, the Huffington Post turned this into: new female professors looking for mentors struggle to find them.
For some reason the HuffPo condensing machine decided to skip over the paragraphs about the lack of female full professors (despite the large number of women who get a PhD in social sciences), and about the female economists who feel they are "passed over for promotion in favor of men" who in some cases may be less qualified.
No, we can skip over all that complicated, irrelevant stuff and get to the final point worth noting: that women who do research in fields outside the mainstream of economics (e.g., on gender and inequality issues) may be marginalized and may have trouble getting tenure for research in those fields.
OK, I believe that, but this is summarized as: Furthermore, women tend to get pushed into the gender studies departments, despite their natural inclinations.
This comparison of the source article and the HuffPo summary is not intended to bash the Huffington Post in particular, though it would be consistent with my natural inclinations to do so. Mostly I am interested in how a 'summary' of the findings of a study is not just incomplete (perhaps to be expected in a summary) but contains a fair amount of fabrication, resulting in a rather dim view of women faculty.
In just three short sentences, we learn that women faculty are confused, struggling to find people to advise them, and pushed into research fields that go against their nature. We do not learn that women are passed over for career opportunities and promotion. We therefore do not learn why untenured women faculty in the social sciences are much less satisfied with their jobs than are their male peers.
If you are dissatisfied with your job as a faculty member, whether tenured or untenured, in whatever field, what is the #1 reason for your dissatisfaction? Is it related to the specific place where you are employed, to something more general to your field (does your research go against your natural inclinations, whatever those are?), to your lack of tenure (yet), or something else entirely?