212086 Double-bind of motherhood and academic life

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Victoria A. Frye, DrPH , Laboratory of Social and Behavioral SciencesProgram, New York Blood Center, New York, NY
There was once a myth that The Academy -- or maybe just teaching -- is a good place for pregnant and/or parenting women. Summers off, flexible work schedules - perfect right? Well, no. While the convergence of pregnancy and/or parenting and becoming a new junior faculty member often cannot be avoided for reasons of biology and career timing, it creates a unique bind for women, who typically shoulder a disproportionate share of childbearing and childrearing. Junior academics often have high teaching loads while being expected to conduct research that will lead to tenure and promotion; as well, they may volunteer for the most time-intensive service. Mothers in non-tenure earning research positions face the relentless pressure to publish and acquire grant funding, compounded by the insecurity of being on “soft money.” In both situations, the total workload for mothers is often unmanageable. This double bind, overwork at home and in the office, overwhelms many women or inhibits others from competing in the first place. Some academic and research institutions appear to take seriously this double bind and have programs designed to support mothers; whether these work is unknown. The blogosphere and print press have various spaces for talking about the issues and offer tips for balancing (e.g., get involved in advocacy on work/life issues, find mentors, etc.), but no one knows if any of this is helpful. This roundtable will discuss defining “success” and identifying institutional factors associated with it, in public health settings for academic and research mothers.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the challenges of parenting while seeking tenure or advancement in an academic career.

Keywords: Women, Workforce

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am familiar with the struggles inherent in balancing parenting with an academic and research career.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.