April 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
I submitted this story to “What is it like…?”, but it’s had such a positive effect on me and my institution that I think it’s worth mentioning again.
At the end of my first semester as a tenure-track faculty member, I discovered that I was pregnant. I was petrified, and deeply anxious about the effect that this would have on my career (among other things!). My dean (female) and department chair (male) were entirely supportive; my dean even said to me, “Tell us what you need, and we’ll do our best to make it happen.” I nearly wept for joy! Since then, I’m happy to report that my dean & department have been consistently supportive of my needs as a working mom (e.g., scheduling my classes &meetings at times when childcare is easily available).
One obvious suggestion (for my institution as well as others) is to make on-campus childcare available to faculty, staff, and students. Not only is it convenient for affiliates, & sends the right message that the institution is committed to supporting female faculty (&families in general), but it also allows employees & students to be more flexible with respect to work & class obligations. (And if the institution has a school of education, it can use the childcare facility as a practicum for its education students.) I’m sure there are legal issues to surmount, but some institutions have managed to do it.