Schools wrestle with how to 'stop the clock' on tenure progress
- Research is mixed on the benefits extended by colleges and universities to tenure-track professor having children; some indicate that men disproportionately benefit from the time off, while others studies say men and women have used the breaks to enhance research and publishing.
- College officials are working to resolve gender disparities, separated by the biological challenges for women who physically carry and deliver a baby, versus the theoretical notion of institutional support for men who wish to be post-natal caregivers.
- Officials recommend gender-neutral stop-the-clock policies for men and women, or for faculty members to confirm their caregiving during normal work hours, a suggestion which could be taxing for the more than 90% of universities which currently have tenure break policies.
In a growing culture of Title IX scrutiny and compliance struggles for universities and student bodies, colleges do not want to form policies which could lead to gender discrimination suits and public backlash. The challenge of balancing the physical and moral arguments of such policies blend much of the conversation and make shaping personnel policy virtually impossible.
Campus executives must find ways to engage high numbers of faculty in conversation around the issue, and encourage state, and perhaps federal, legal assistance to aid in crafting fair policy that could influence faculty recruitment and retention.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education Is it time to stop stopping the clock?