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Discrimination and Career Satisfaction: Perceptions from US Forest Service Scientists

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Kern, Christel ; Kenefic, Laura ; Dockry, Michael ; Cobo-Lewis, Alan

Year Published



Journal of Forestry


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.


Government researchers; harassment; workforce diversification; gender; diversity


Kern, Christel C; Kenefic, Laura S; Dockry, Michael J; Cobo-Lewis, Alan. 2020. Discrimination and Career Satisfaction: Perceptions from US Forest Service Scientists. Journal of Forestry. 118(1): 44-58.

Last updated on: July 6, 2020