Work and family perspectives from research university faculty

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<ul><li><p>Having a child creates priorities, adds perspective, andhelps women to be clear about what they can do (andwhat they are willing to do) to succeed as a facultymember.</p><p>NEW DIRECTIONS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, no. 130, Summer 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 67</p><p>4</p><p>Work and Family Perspectives fromResearch University Faculty</p><p>Kelly Ward, Lisa E. Wolf-Wendel </p><p>Given changes in the academic workforce, including the presence of a grow-ing number of women faculty of childbearing age, it is becoming increas-ingly important for institutions of higher education to consider how theyreact to and accommodate faculty with familial demands. Such accommo-dations were considered unnecessary when a majority of academic profes-sionals were men with stay-at-home wives (Tierney and Bensimon, 1996;Williams, 2000) and when the academic labor market was such that therewere too few positions for the large number of qualified applicants. Neitheris the case today; the labor market is shifting, and an increasing number ofacademics find themselves trying to juggle academic work and parenthood(Finkelstein, Seal, and Schuster, 1998; Perna, 2003).</p><p>From a policy perspective, interest in work/family issues has expandedconsiderably over the past decade, with colleges and universities starting topay attention to the importance of these issues for faculty, students, andstaff. Some of this interest was jump-started in 1993 when the federal gov-ernment passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA wasestablished to protect those having families and those with significant fam-ily responsibilities that could inhibit an employees ability to work.Organizations with fifty or more employees, as well as all public agencies,are bound by law to provide up to twelve work weeks of unpaid leave dur-ing any twelve-month period for one or more of the following reasons (U.S.Department of Labor, 2004):</p></li><li><p>68 THE CHALLENGE OF BALANCING FACULTY CAREERS AND FAMILY WORK</p><p> Birth and care of the newborn child of the employee Placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster</p><p>care Care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a</p><p>serious health condition To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of </p><p>a serious health problem</p><p>The vast majority of colleges and universities are bound by FMLA.This has had both negative and positive consequences for faculty combin-ing work and family. The legislation is positive in that it safeguards facultyfrom losing their job and their insurance coverage when they take a leavefor family reasons. It is also positive in that FMLA forces all covered insti-tutions to consider issues associated with family leave, an issue that priorto 1993 was invisible on many campuses. It is negative, however, in thatwe found that some campuses do nothing else but offer FMLA provisionsto new parents, which means the grant of unpaid leave. It is negative aswell in that the presence of FMLA can exonerate the conscience of highereducation institutions from doing more to help faculty negotiate the com-bination of work and family.</p><p>Aside from the passage of FMLA, there is other evidence that somecampuses are recognizing that work and family concerns affect the produc-tivity of the academic workforce, thus bringing about change in the num-ber and types of programs designed to address these concerns for the entirecampus community. As evidence of this interest, the College and UniversityWork Family Association (CUWFA) was founded to provide leadership infacilitating the integration of work and study with family/personal life atinstitutions of higher learning (2001). CUWFA recognizes that the com-plexities of life can have an impact on work and learning in higher educa-tion. As further testament to the importance of this issue, the AmericanAssociation of University Professors (AAUP) recommended that all aca-demic institutions institute a policy to accommodate women with youngchildren by stopping the tenure clock (2001). The University of Pennsyl-vania, for example, is in the process of creating a policy that would providean automatic extension of the tenure clock for childbirth rather than hav-ing the extension be optional (Fogg, 2004).</p><p>While combining parenthood and faculty life is challenging for bothmen and women, this chapter focuses on the policy issues affecting womentenure-track faculty with young children. We focus on women because thechallenges they face are exacerbated by such factors as the biological clockcoinciding with the tenure clock, the physical demands of pregnancy andchildbirth, the historical exclusion of women in academe, and societalexpectations about motherhood (Varner, 2000; Williams, 2000). More spe-cifically, the focus of this chapter is on how research universities accom-modate the needs of tenure-track women with young children.</p></li><li><p>WORK AND FAMILY PERSPECTIVES FROM RESEARCH UNIVERSITY FACULTY 69</p><p>Negotiating Work and Family: Perspectives from theLiterature</p><p>A review of the current literature on faculty, work/family issues, and insti-tutional policy is heartening in that it reveals that postsecondary institu-tions are starting to deal more forthrightly with work and family concerns.Colleges and universities have implemented different kinds of policies toaccommodate tenure-track faculty who have young children, ranging frombasic maternity leave (paid or unpaid) to policies that allow for flexibletenure tracks. Based on a survey of chief academic officers at research uni-versities in the mid-1990s, Raabe (1997) found that 84 percent providedunpaid maternity leave, 74 percent provided paid maternity leave, 47 per-cent had on-campus child care facilities, 21 percent offered financial assis-tance for child care, 36 percent offered accommodative scheduling to meetfamily needs, and 29 percent offered expansion of time for tenure for family-related reasons. A more recent survey of 256 colleges and universities indi-cates that research universities were the most likely of the institutionaltypes to have family-friendly policies (see Chapter Three, this volume). Themost common solutions were those without direct financial costs to the institution. For example, 86 percent of research universities offeredinstitution-wide tenure clock stop policies, and 53 percent provided unpaidleaves in excess of FMLA. Hollenshead and colleagues (Chapter Three, thisvolume) also found that policies that cost more were less common.Specifically, only 22 percent of research universities in their study offeredpaid leave for dependent care, 32 percent offered modified duty policies for faculty (course releases), 29 percent offered reduced appointments foreither extraordinary or ordinary circumstances, and approximately 22 per-cent allowed tenure-track faculty to have part-time appointments or to job-share. Additional findings from a national study of parental leave in highereducation found that private institutions are more likely than public onesto have leave policies (Yoest, 2004). The research on leave policies indi-cates an awareness by institutional policymakers, especially those atresearch universities, that the personal lives of academics are worthy ofattention.</p><p>There is also considerable research to demonstrate that postsecondarywork/family policies tend to be underused by faculty (Drago and Colbeck,2003; Finkel, Olswang, and She, 1994; Hochschild, 1997; Raabe, 1997;Ward and Wolf-Wendel, 2004; Yoest, 2004). Many policies are still too newto know if they can be used safely without hurting ones chances of earningtenure, leaving the use of such policies a risky proposition (Ward and Wolf-Wendel, 2004). Furthermore, there is research to suggest that faculty, andespecially women faculty, go to great lengths to avoid being seen as in needof assistance while on the tenure track, which in extreme cases preventssome women faculty from having a child. Those women faculty who havechildren often avoid using available policies for fear of reprisal, a behavior</p></li><li><p>70 THE CHALLENGE OF BALANCING FACULTY CAREERS AND FAMILY WORK</p><p>identified as bias avoidance (Drago and others, 2004). Based on their sur-vey of faculty at a research university, Finkel, Olswang, and She (1994)found similar results. A majority of faculty, regardless of gender, rank, andfamily status, supported the idea of paid leave for women faculty for child-birth and for newborn care and supported unpaid leave for ongoing infantcare. A majority of faculty also supported stopping the tenure clock in thesecircumstances. Interestingly enough, however, these same faculty membersreported that taking such a leave would hurt them professionally; as a con-sequence, of those surveyed who had children (almost 50 percent), only asmall percentage took all of their allowable leave.</p><p>The literature suggests that a small but growing number of campusesare creating and implementing work/family policies, with research univer-sities, as compared to other types of institutions, being most likely to havepolicies. And perhaps most enlightening (and problematic) is that the lit-erature reveals that the climate of colleges and universities is such that fac-ulty are reluctant to use existing family-friendly policies. </p><p>The purpose of this chapter is to learn more about the policy arena inresearch universities by examining existing policies and their use. Further-more, we learn from women faculty who are currently on the tenure trackand are mothers of young children about their views about work and fam-ily policies at research universities.</p><p>Research Design of the Study</p><p>The research reported in this chapter is part of a larger study of how not-yet-tenured women faculty at research universities attempt to achieve bal-ance between their parental and professional roles. The focus is on howinstitutional context and policy availability affect the ability of these womento negotiate work and family demands. The study is guided by the follow-ing research questions:</p><p> What work and family policies are available for faculty use? To what extent are these policies used? How do women faculty members with children view these policies?</p><p>Research Methods. The study focuses on women faculty at researchuniversities, where faculty work is marked by the consuming challenges ofresearch, publication, and extramural funding, in addition to teaching andservice. The thirty women in the study represent a range of disciplinarybackgrounds and are from nine research universities from different regionsof the country, and with varying levels of prestige. The purpose in this var-iation lies in the potential that not all institutions are the same and factorslike location and prestige might make the balance between work and familyeither more manageable or more precarious. Institutional prestige was deter-mined by limiting the sample to women at research-extensive universities</p></li><li><p>WORK AND FAMILY PERSPECTIVES FROM RESEARCH UNIVERSITY FACULTY 71</p><p>according to the Carnegie classification system. Second, to capture the vari-ability within the research-extensive category, we looked at membership inthe Association of American Universities (AAU) to identify top-tier researchuniversities. Thirteen of the thirty faculty interviewed were from AAU mem-ber institutions, and the remaining seventeen were from other research-extensive institutions.</p><p>The study relies on formal interviews with women assistant professorscurrently making progress on the tenure track who have children under fiveyears of age and newly promoted associate professors (promoted within thepast year) who also have children under five years of age. This sample con-figuration supports the ultimate goal of the study: to learn more about howinstitutional policy affects the ability to balance work and family. Interviewswere guided by a semistructured protocol with questions related to policiesavailable on campus, the utility and use of such policies, ideas about whatpolicies would be most helpful, and the impact of using policies in relationto tenure. In addition to interviews, we collected policy statements andother institutional documents related to work and family from the nineinstitutions.</p><p>Analysis Procedures. The interviews were transcribed and then ana-lyzed and interpreted using the constant comparative approach (Strauss andCorbin, 1990; Strauss, 1987). Data analysis of both the interviews and thedocuments was inductive and identified common themes and emerging pat-terns. With this technique the patterns, themes, and categories of analysiscome from the data; they emerge out of the data rather than being imposedon them prior to data collection and analysis (Patton, 1980, p. 306).Qualitative methods are appropriate because the topic is rooted in womensexperiences, which is best understood from the women themselves.</p><p>The data collection and analysis conform to the highest standards ofqualitative research. Both researchers were involved in data collection andanalysis and were in constant communication about data collected and emerg-ing themes. Our own position as professors and mothers provides additionalperspective in collecting and analyzing the data. Member checks were con-ducted by selecting study participants to review and analyze working themesfrom the data to see if they resonated with individual experience. Feedbackwas then incorporated into the final narrative. An audit trail was maintainedthrough rigorous adherence to record keeping at all stages of data collectionand analysis.</p><p>Findings: Policy Perspectives</p><p>As the purpose of this chapter is to learn more about the policy environment,we will not belabor the daily life experiences of these women. Informationabout the day-to-day challenges and sources of satisfaction for women fac-ulty with young children is presented elsewhere (Ward and Wolf-Wendel,2004). A brief review of those findings demonstrates some consistency with</p></li><li><p>72 THE CHALLENGE OF BALANCING FACULTY CAREERS AND FAMILY WORK</p><p>prior studies about life on the tenure track for all junior faculty members:the tenure track is a stressful time, academic work never ends, and institu-tional expectations for tenure can be unclear (Boice, 1992; Tierney andBensimon, 1996). Without question, the presence of a child adds to the feel-ings of personal stress and workplace tension that those on the tenure trackexperience. At the same time, however, we also found that the presence of achild adds a perspective to academic work that we have not seen in previousresearch about women faculty. The research conducted on women faculty ingeneral, and women faculty as mothers in particular, tends to look at aca-demic structures as normative ones that are exclusive of women (Aisenbergand Harrington, 1988; Armenti, 2004). From one vantage point, our find-ings substantiate this, but a different vantage point shows women with chil-dren in tow successfully navigating a system that has historically beenexclusive of them. Having a child creates priorities, adds perspective, andhelps women to be clear about wha...</p></li></ul>


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