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Faculty Work-Family Issues: Finding the Balance at a Liberal Arts College. SUZANNE AMADOR KANE, Physics Department, Haverford College MARISSA GOLDEN, Political Science Department, Bryn Mawr College. or: Would You Watch my Kids for Me While I Give This Talk?.

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faculty work family issues finding the balance at a liberal arts college

Faculty Work-Family Issues: Finding the Balance at a Liberal Arts College

SUZANNE AMADOR KANE, Physics Department, Haverford College

MARISSA GOLDEN, Political Science Department, Bryn Mawr College

or would you watch my kids for me while i give this talk
or: Would You Watch my Kids for Me While I Give This Talk?

Don’t worry—Charlie’s got it covered!

  • Small (liberal arts colleges) vs. large (research universities): an alternative career track & its outlook for women
  • What are the Work/family issues for faculty?
  • Recommendations
  • Some off-the-cuff concluding remarks

Bachelor’s-only departments have a larger % female faculty

  • Larger departments have lower percentages of female faculty (10% at Harvard, 7% at MIT)
  • Main reason: larger departments tend to have more senior faculty
  • Small numbers mean many small departments have none at all (but the % climbs steeply as women are hired)

“Women in Physics & Astronomy, 2005” AIP

“Where are the female physicists?” Robert Ehrlich, CWSP Gazette, pg. 3, Fall 2007.

women in physics astronomy at some of our peer colleges
% women in physics & astronomy at some of our peer colleges:
  • Carleton 43% 3 F / 7
  • Haverford 33% 2 F / 6 total
  • Swarthmore 22% 2 F / 9
  • Williams 14% 1 F / 7
  • Reed 11% 1 F / 9
  • Wesleyan 0% 0 F / 9
  • Amherst 0% 0 F / 6
2 courses / year (fewer in some cases)

Few new course preps

High publication rate in top journals required for tenure

Expectation of significant grant funding

Service load & student advising spread over a larger # faculty

Access to grad students and postdocs

Lower tenure rates typical

e.g., 5 courses / year (one may be student research)

Teach across the curriculum

Research productivity required for tenure (but average publication rate of 0.5 to 1 article /year (Research Corp.)

Less funding pressure (and no need to cover salaries) with alternative funding sources

More service load & student advising per faculty

Work primarily with undergraduates

Higher tenure rates typical


Research University

Liberal Arts College

are work family issues important for women faculty
Are work/family issues important for (women) faculty?
  • Main studies based on surveys of doctorate recipients (160,000 PhD recipients in all disciplines) and 4,400 UC faculty & 800 UC Berkeley postdocs (bio & physics)
  • Similar patterns found in humanities, social sciences & natural sciences, and across institution type
  • But…these results apply up to 1995 PhD’s, and most have not been extended more recently!
  • Haverford data cited here is for all natural science faculty in 2008

Mason, M.A. & M. Goulden (2004), "Do Babies Matter (Part II)? Closing the Baby Gap", Academe, November—December 2004.

Mason, M.A., & Goulden, M., "Do Babies Matter: The Effect of Family Formation on the Lifelong Careers of Academic Men and Women", Academe, November—December 2002, 88(6).

earlier studies found work family conflicts
Earlier studies found work-family conflicts…
  • Do Babies Matter: Women who have children within 5 years of their PhD are less likely (56%) to get tenure than men who do the same (77%)
  • Haverford Science: same tenure rates (85% often quoted as institutional average)
  • Do Babies Matter: Women with tenure are less likely to be married (63%) or have children (55%) than men (85% & 74%)
  • Haverford Science: 100% women and men tenured faculty are married; rates similar for junior faculty; All but 1 female / 1 male tenured faculty have children (70% F, 78% M all faculty)
how do liberal arts colleges differ on work family issues
How do liberal arts colleges differ on work-family issues?
  • Research expectations (grants, publication rates) more consistent with periods of variable productivity because of major family events
  • More teaching can be constraining (you can put off a meeting with a grad student more easily than a class)
  • But smaller departments can mean more flexibility (swapping class coverage; flexibility in scheduling teaching & committees)
  • Some places require less postdoc experience—fewer dual-career couple moves?
  • Main issue: all institutions require the same support structures for success!
core work family policies need to be in place
Core work/family policies need to be in place
  • Childbirth, adoption, new parent and eldercare leave policies in writing (not just possibly negotiable)
  • Tenure-clock stoppage for major events
  • Readily-available, nearby childcare
  • Signs that current faculty use these policies
2 nd 3 rd wave ideas are helpful but less likely to be in place
2nd & 3rd wave ideas are helpful, but less likely to be in place:
  • Family/self illness & emergency leave options
  • Afterschool programs & summer for school-age children
  • Emergency & drop-in childcare
  • Coordination of local school district and institution calendars (holidays, start & stop dates in agreement)
  • Technician help to smooth over life events
  • Help when sabbatticals get sabotaged by major life events
dual career couples
Dual-career Couples
  • Extensive networks/databases of local jobs for relocation
  • Policies to facilitate hiring partners (career counselors, openness to hiring for nonacademic jobs in the institution)
  • Coordination with other academic institutions in hiring
  • Temporary postdoc style support for partners to smooth over transitions
  • Openness to dual-couple job-sharing arrangements where there is interest (e.g., two 2/3 positions)
How do liberal arts colleges do in all this? Results from a informal 2007 survey of 14 selective COFHE schools
  • 100% offer parental/maternity leave
  • 100% offer tenure clock stoppage options
  • 4/14 offer part-time tenure-track, unpaid leave options for flexibility
  • 10 have on-campus (or nearby) daycare centers
  • 6 offer drop-in childcare options
  • 4 have summer childcare programs
  • 10 have networks to help dual-career couples
what else to look for
What else to look for…
  • Climate: sympathetic, inclusive senior colleagues & administration
  • Family-friendly department & college schedules (e.g., few events after 5pm)
  • Women shouldn’t be overloaded with service relative to male peers
  • OTHER WOMEN FACULTY (in physics or other natural sciences, at least in the building)
plan ahead
Plan ahead:
  • Don’t blaze a trail: find a department that has already worked this out ahead of time!
  • Locate mentors in your home institution & elsewhere—before you need them!
  • Select teaching & committee assignments that offer more flexibility (e.g., a teaching schedule that coordinates with a partner’s, one intense period of committee work / semester vs. weekly 4-6pm meetings)
plan ahead part 2
Plan ahead (part 2)
  • Find projects that you can work on during events like childbirth & new parenting overload
  • E.g., write up papers, even a book while on pregnancy bedrest or maternity leave, write a grant proposal when you can’t get into the lab as much; think of projects for students that can be managed more easily in this mode
  • Stockpile service and other assignments against future disruptions
  • Focus on what you can do to offset what you can’t do
  • Ditto afterwork commitments
and now for the tacit knowledge
And now for the tacit knowledge
  • Negotiate! Salary, startup, summer salary, office/lab space, teaching & service reductions…
  • Your future raises & other support are conditioned on this
  • Childcare, flexibility, etc. are all easier to navigate with more money!
  • Especially important because women are less likely to relocate later to increase their salaries & other support
more tacit knowledge
More tacit knowledge
  • Don’t work in a place that has (too many) jerks
  • If you must work with jerks, try to insulate yourself with supportive colleagues
  • Also, make sure one senior person knows about any bad treatment; document egregious examples
  • Don’t get dragged into internal politics if you can avoid it (don’t take sides needlessly)
  • Learn alpha behavior (like the “hard stare”) to confront inappropriate actions or remarks
still more tacit knowledge
Still more tacit knowledge
  • Make sure present junior faculty aren’t too intimidated to make use of official policies and resources
  • Notice whether existing faculty actually know about and utilize family-friendly policies themselves
  • Don’t do unimportant stuff when you can get away with it
  • Dial back on as much service as possible--have you every heard of someone getting tenure based on extraordinary service?
Learn to see the equivalents between what you need and what others assume they get by right (e.g., lifelong healthcare for nonworking spouses is a given, but less expensive maternity leave for employees is an unfair perk? Years off for military service is OK—but not maternity leave?)
  • Make sure everyone knows about what you do contribute—talk this up so it’s not forgotten when you have to take a day off to stay home with a sick child
  • Make room for blocks of family and personal time, not just slivers (an entire month over the summer, a week off over December, etc.)
  • Take care of your friends, health and integrity too…
make sure you have on your end
Make sure you have on your end:
  • Peers/friend support network (can be informal or institutional)—moral support plus on-the-ground logistics (trading off last minute help, giving advice about specific decisions, etc.)
  • Help when you need it: take advantage of services for housekeeping, yardwork, etc.
  • No Super Woman level expectations from you, your family or your colleagues!
and finally when you make it
And finally…when you make it
  • Make it clear that you, the senior person, still have to navigate these issues; let others see how
selected resources
Selected Resources
  • “Hunting for Jobs at Liberal Arts Colleges” Suzanne Amador Kane & Kenneth Laws, Physics Today November 2006 59 (11) 38.
  • Dual-Career Couples website by Laurie McNeil and Marc Sher http://www.physics.wm.edu/dualcareer.html
  • Mothers on the fast track : how a new generation can balance family and careers,Mary Ann Mason and Eve Mason Ekman, Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Getting to Yes: negotiating agreement without giving in, Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton, 2003.
  • Eric Jensen’s site on Resources for Academic Couples at: http://astro.swarthmore.edu/~jensen/couples.html