Discrimination and career satisfaction: Perceptions from US forest service scientists

Christel C. Kern, Laura S. Kenefic, Michael J. Dockry, Alan Cobo-Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Research, largely focused on academia, has shown demographic differences in perceptions and experiences of workplace culture in science fields, including natural resources. Less is known about experiences of those working for government institutions. This study examined relationships between demographic characteristics (gender, scientific discipline, years as a scientist), experiences of discrimination or harassment, and perceptions of career success and satisfaction as reported in a survey by 100 research scientists in the US Forest Service: a hierarchical federal agency with explicit goals for workforce diversification. Approximately half the survey respondents, and more women than men, indicated that they had experienced work-related discrimination or harassment. Survey respondents identified gender as the most common basis of discrimination. Although most felt successful and satisfied in their careers, this perception was lower among those who had experienced discrimination or harassment.These findings highlight challenges of workforce diversification, especially in hierarchical institutions where organizational structure favors conformity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-58
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Forestry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the scientists of the US Forest Service, Northern Research Station for participating in this study. Cherie L. Fisher (US Forest Service) was integral to developing and deploying our survey instrument and summarizing responses; Susan L. Stout (US Forest Service) assisted with developing research questions and hypotheses. Reviews of the survey were provided by Jessica Leahy (University of Maine) and Herb Schroeder (US Forest Service). Reviews of data analyses and an earlier version of this manuscript were provided by Craig Mason, Lynne Westphal, Ingrid Schneider, and Christopher Woodall. The project was supported by the US Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Executive Team and Civil Rights and Diversity Committee, Special Projects Fund.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


  • Diversity
  • Gender
  • Government researchers
  • Harassment
  • Workforce diversification


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