To respond to an increasing emphasis placed on research capability and productivity, universities in China are reforming their policies regarding faculty's performance evaluation and promotion criteria. Faculties are motivated to invest in research, and those without a PhD degree are strongly encouraged to enroll in doctoral programs. From the perspective of the theory of planned behavior, we conducted a qualitative study to explore the factors underpinning the intention to pursue a PhD degree among female teachers in a Chinese university. From data collected via semi-structured interviews, we found that participants were evaluating their pursuit of a doctoral degree in the clashes between the entrenched social-cultural beliefs of women's role and the institutional expectation of a fully devoted scholar. Accordingly, theoretical and practical implications of our findings are discussed.