Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Bankard Fund at the University of Virginia

The Family, Gender and Tenure Project is a nationwide study of work and family policies in academia. In addition to the value this study provides to the academic community, the survey data provide a lens through which to view the broader potential of parental leave.

The academic setting presents a “crucial case” – it is a natural laboratory for studying paid family leave policies. Motivation to recruit and retain female faculty is high. University communities are typically characterized by a commitment to justice concerns. And female faculty members are well educated and have high levels of professional commitment. In short, if paid leave has the potential to work effectively and advantageously anywhere, it should do so in academia.

We are interested in examining how parental leave and extensions to tenure review schedules (“stopped tenure clock” policies) are being used by faculty and whether they are achieving one of their fundamental objectives-- “leveling the playing field” for female faculty. Despite the widespread adoption of these policies in U.S. universities, we know very little about their actual nature, use or consequences.

To better understand the various forms that such policies take in different universities, how these policies are being used by faculty, and the differences that the policies are making in the lives and careers of faculty, we are studying these issues at two levels of analysis: institutional and individual.

Four separate surveys have been conducted – the first gathered institutional-level information, while the following three provided individual-level data. First, a survey of school administrators examined the nature of their policies intended to help faculty balance work and family. Second, and third, a survey examining the usage of these policies by junior faculty, their attitudes toward the policies, and their assessment of their assistance in achieving tenure was administered to a sample of assistant professors with children less than twenty-four months in age and then those with children between two and four. Then, lastly a similar survey was administered to junior faculty without children to compare their attitudes and expectations.

We plan a five-year follow-up to study career outcomes with respect to tenure for the original sample and seek retrospective evaluations by faculty of the importance of the policies.



January 30, 2004

Release of report on institutional survey results.

Press Release

Institutional Survey Report

Recent Highlights

March 16, 2003: Presentation to American Association for Higher Education

August 28, 2003: Presentation to the American Political Science Association


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This website is property of the Family, Gender and Tenure in Academia study at the University of Virginia, spring 2003.