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Tenure, Child Care Plague Female Professors Who Work to Balance Career Demands, Family Concerns

By Elizabeth T. Bangs

Assistant Professor of Anthropology Carole A.S. Mandryk spent last summer on an archaeological expedition in Northern California. As usual, she took her two young sons, Nicholas, 7, and Zachary, 2, with her.

"My in-laws were going to meet me in the field and watch my kids," Mandryk says.

But at the last minute, her husbands' parents weren't able to go to California. Fortunately, Harvard hired a nanny to fly to California to watch the boys.

But such programs as emergency day care for faculty are relatively new at the University. And Mandryk's situation highlights a problem which is increasing as Harvard hires more female faculty members; the tension between work and family.

"A lot of parents find it initially difficult to get field experience because they have kids and you wouldn't be bringing kids to a field situation," Mandryk says.

In work in archaeology, Mandryk has attempted to reconcile the conflict by taking her sons along. But the problem is not field specific.

Across the disciplines, classes, office hours, laboratory experiments and field research inevitably clash with ballet recitals, baseball games, parent-teacher conferences, bedtimes and--sometimes most problematically-children's illnesses.

Professors with teenage children say times have changed over the last ten years. While they were left to fend for themselves and find a way to balance academic work and family responsibilities on their own, they say they have noticed increasing University support for working mothers and acceptance of faculty members with outside responsibilities.

Professors with younger children praise newly implemented policies and programs which help them balance career and family.

But, particularly for junior faculty, subsidized day care and parental leave do not alleviate the pressure to publish and the demands of achieving a tenured position.

Family Planning

For many women, the issue is when, if at all, to have children.

Professor of Government and Sociology Theda Skocpol waited until she was 41 and been tenured before having her son Michael, 7.

Edie Greene, a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado who is on sabbatical this year at Harvard Law School, married at 35 and then had her two children, David, 5, and Rebecca, 3.

"I was well on my way toward tenure then. I got tenure when I was on maternity leave," Greene says. "I think that it would have been hard to do it any other way."

Likewise, Margaret E. Law, senior lecturer on physics, chose to delay having children. But that choice led to her sacrificing a family altogether.

"It wasn't an absolute decision on my part. We never planned not to have children," Law says. "We just never got around to having children."

"I felt I needed to establish a career first," she says.

But Law's experience is unusual. Most women have managed to find points during their careers when having chidden was at least feasible, it not easy. Some like Skocpol have chosen to wait until they have been tenured.

Professor of Chemistry Cynthia M. Friend had her daughter Ayse, now 13, after receiving her Ph.D. and about two months before she began teaching at Harvard. Her son Kurt, 11, was born two years later.

"It seemed like a good break point in my career, and I had a tremendous amount of energy," Friend says, "I have many more demands on my time as a senior faculty member because [1] have more responsibility to the institution and to the outside community."

"I would find it much harder, with the combination of energy level and other commitments, to start a family now," she says. "I also know many women who have deferred having a family and were subsequently unable to do so for various reasons."

But Skocpol says having a young son has reenergize her life.

"There are advantages to having a child later. We are secure in our careers. We had enough money to afford excellent day care and an excellent school," Skocpol says. "Having a child rejuvenates you. That's very, very pleasant in one's 40s."

But however pleasant motherhood may be, female faculty members acknowledge that having an academic career has meant limiting the size of their families.

"I sometimes feel it would have been nice to have two children instead of one," says Skocpol. "That would have been possible if we'd started earlier."

Mandryk and her husband had considered having a third child.

"It was a theoretical possibility before I came here," she says, "But unless I simply quit sleeping altogether there is no more time I can squeeze out of my life."

"I do think I might have managed [to have a third child] at a less intense institution in a less expensive area," Mandryk says.

Assistant Professor of Economics Donald R. Davis says the challenge of balancing work and family is not faced solely by women.

He brought his baby daughter Olivia, 10 months, to a Saturday review session in March because his wife, a physician, was working and they had no other child care arrangements.

Davis says he has more of the child care responsibility than his wife. During the week, Davis and a colleague in the economics department share a babysitter.

Child Care

Universally, female faculty members say their biggest challenge is finding quality, affordable day care.

"It's difficult to patch solutions together," says Friend, who has had her two children in home day care and University day care, as well as live-in-help.

"It's very difficult to find someone who would be your ideal provider and expect them to stay with you for any length of time," she says. "If they're a bright person and have initiative, which is the kind of person you'd ideally like to have taking care of your children, it means they have other aspirations."

Mandryk, Greene and Skocpol have all had their children in one of theUniversity's six child care centers.

"It was extraordinarily good day care. Therewere two teachers who had each worked with infantsfor 13 years. Michael was in a classroom with fiveother infants," Skocpol says. "He flourished."

"Since Michael was four months old, he hasunderstood that on Monday mornings we all gosomeplace," she adds.

But Skocpol cautions that institutional daycare might not always be a positive option.

"It depends on the child," she says. "If hegets sick a lot or is shy, it might not work."

A career in academics sometimes makeconventional child care not feasible, according toJoseph J. McCarthy, assistant dean for academicplanning.

"The need for child care in this constituencyis considerable because it doesn't have isconsiderable because it doesn't have to do withthe typical nine-to-five," McCarthy say. "Thesepeople have various colloquia seminars andmeetings they need to attend at different hours.Laboratory experiments don't follow regular hourseither."

"Their jobs are boundless in many ways," agreesMary G. Opperman, director of employee services."They aren't working nine-to-five. It's exactlythat which makes all the services available in thecommunity not particularly helpful."

"If you have a 7:30 a.m. lab, where are yougoing to find a day care center?" she says. "Ifyou have a course at 2:30 and your kid's got arecital, you can't take a half day off."

At the University of Colorado, Greene alsostays home half days three days a week. And Friendreports often bringing Ayse and Kurt to work withher.

Mandryk always takes Nicholas and Zachary withher on digs.

"A lot of people think that's bizarre," Mandryksays. "Before I took them with me the first time,I kept saying that I was unwilling to be a man andleave my kids behind. They're too young to leave."

But whatever the day care arrangements, crisescan result when children get sick.

"If it would come to that, I would cancelclass," Greene says. "I could imagine it might."

Professors say that in large measure they haverelied on luck; they've had relatively healthy,happy and flexible children.

Juggling Priorities

Professors say balancing work pressures andfamily demands requires constant planning and,sometimes, a willingness to make sacrifices.

"It's a continual balancing act because,especially in the early stages of your career, youhave to keep pushing to grind out the work," Davissays. "But at the same time, when it's time to gopick up the baby, there's no alternative."

Friend says having children does not affect thecore of her work, the teaching and research, buthas meant that she has fewer outside commitmentsthan she might otherwise.

"I have to decide if it's worth it to assume acertain responsibility or go give a lecturesomeplace." she says.

Mandryk says she works to partition her day sto limit te conflict the two sets ofresponsibilities can create.

"[A friend told me] she decided to be 100percent a professor when the kids were in day careand 100 percent a mother when the kids were home.That's how I've been trying to operate here," shesays.

"As long as I'm working and away from my kids,I don't feel guilty," Mandryk says. "I try tobring as little as possible home to do. And if Ido [bring work home], I don't do it until they'reasleep."

Family-friendly

According to the February 1995 report of theWork and Family Committee, which was formed in1993 by President Neil L. Rudenstine, facultymembers report "they encounter an underlyingattitude that time spent on family is proof of alack of commitment to--and even incompatiblewith--building an academic career."

Friend says such attitudes are subtle, but doexist.

"Someone I know called being in academics likejoining a priesthood," she says. "You're expectedkind of to give up everything else and devoteyourself to your work."

"I think it's unfortunate when people [withchildren] downplay parenting when they don't wantto appear less serious," Mandryk says. "Someonetold me they really don't expect you to be male,but they really prefer it if you're neuter."

Several women mention going to meetings as aspecific problem they have encountered.

"A five o'clock meeting is almost animpossibility for me," Mandryk says. "I've beentold that there are departments where this happenson a regular basis."

"If you don't have family responsibilities youcan't understand...that when kids are in day carethat being even five minutes late can besignificant." Friend says. "The reality is mostfaculty at Harvard do not have primaryresponsibility for the family. They're older,they're mainly male. Women who don't have childrenhave similar difficulty understanding."

The administration of the Faculty of Arts andSciences, including Associate Dean for AffirmativeAction Marjorie Garber, is particularly interestedin addressing the issue of meeting time andlength. McCarthy says.

"One of the things I think we are going to tryand do is to work with departments around thequestions of when they schedule meetings at whichparents, male and female, are expected to be inattendance and help them think about this in amore sensitive fashion," he says. "It's easilymodified and could make a great deal ofdifference."

"If the University were family friendly andstill professional, that would be great," Mandryksays. "I won't pretend that being a mother is notimportant to me. I'd like to get the University tohave an attitude that we do value family."

Some women faculty fear that theresponsibilities of motherhood may slow down orhamper their efforts to reach a tenured position.

"I simply can't accomplish as much, or in thesame way or with the same intensity, as someonewithout children," Mandryk says.

And Greene reports that the commitment to herchildren continues to affect how she is perceivedby the academic community even after havingreached a tenured position at the University ofColorado.

"I don't do as much research, as much writingas I did before I had children," she say. "Iprobably am not invited to write as may articlesor to be on as many symposia. But that's choiceI'm willing to make."

Time Change

Still, professors praise the advances theUniversity has made in making it easier forfaculty members to raise children while pursingtheir careers.

The University has introduced a twin policy ofparental leave and teaching relief for parents ofnewborns and newly-adopted children.

"When my first child was born in 1970, I wasteaching at Columbia University," says Professorof Romance Languages Susan R. Suleiman, who hastwo children, Daniel, 18, an Michael, 25.

"I taught on the day he was born and then againone week later," she says. "There was no suchthing as maternity leave."

Parents may now take up to one year off for thebirth of each child, The ten year limit on juniorfaculty teaching at Harvard is extended for eachof those years.

In addition, parents may take either onesemester of full teaching relief or two semestersof half-time teaching relief after their return.

"Those two policies, we believe, have been verysuccessful," McCarthy says.

He says 21 of the 62 junior faculty women havetaken advantage of those policies. He estimatesthat as many as a third of junior faculty womenhave young children.

As a result of the report of the committee, theUniversity has also expanded scholarship funds tohelp faculty members pay for child care andadoption service and established as the servicefor emergency day care relief.

In addition, the University has opened theOffice of Work and Family and Provost AlbertCarnesale will chair a standing committee toaddress these concerns.

"I think it has been successful," says Friendof the efforts of the Work and Family Committee,of which she was a member, "We've laid out theissues. I'm pleased to see that the administrationis also interested in these kind of issues and istaking the actions they can."

But Friend says much work remains to be done.

"Young women should not feel, and many do, thatif they want to go into academics, they cannothave a family," she says. "What I see in womengraduate students is them having trouble seeinghow they can do it. They're kind of negative onacademics sometimes."

Assistant Professor of Economics Caroline M.Hoxby has chosen a career over having a family. Amarried, first-year assistant professor, she saysshe can't imagine having children in the nearfuture.

"Looking toward the future, it's quite clearthat there are tremendous disincentives to havingchildren," she says. "It's difficult to imaginebeing able to spend a sufficient amount of timewith a child and a sufficient amount of time on myresearch,"

Friend suggests that the University adopt anoption for part-time teaching while children areyoung.

"Kids grow up and do that rather rapidly," shesays. "The amount of responsibility and worry goesdown considerably when they get old enough to dothings on their own."

She also would like to see a examination of theprocess by which junior faculty members areevaluated, with greater emphasis on the quantityrather than the quantity of published work.

"If you don't have as much time to devote [toscholarship] you might not be as prolific as someof your male colleagues," Friend says. "But thatdoesn't mean that the quality of what youdo...isn't something that shouldn't be looked at."

Despite the challenges they face in trying tojuggle their students, their research and theirchildren, faculty mothers say they have achieved asense of fulfillment for having at least a pieceof it all.

Both Skocpol and Friend say raising childrenhas given them renewed energy for theirscholarship.

"It makes me maintain some balance in my life.If I didn't have a family, I think I'd probablywork too much, work beyond the point where I'mcreative," Friend says. "I need to get away fromthinking about my work specifically instead ofbeing like a drone all the time."

Mandryk says that in spite of the tensioncreated by having dual responsibilities, her sonshave alleviated some of the pressure of teachingat Harvard.

"I don't know what I would do without thelittle boy hugs and kisses to restore my spiritand put a proper perspective on what reallymatters in life," she says.

Valerie J. MacMillan and Douglas M. Pravdacontributed to the reporting of this story.Photo CourtesyDonald R. DavisDONALD R. DAVIS and his daughter OLIVIA, 10months.

"It was extraordinarily good day care. Therewere two teachers who had each worked with infantsfor 13 years. Michael was in a classroom with fiveother infants," Skocpol says. "He flourished."

"Since Michael was four months old, he hasunderstood that on Monday mornings we all gosomeplace," she adds.

But Skocpol cautions that institutional daycare might not always be a positive option.

"It depends on the child," she says. "If hegets sick a lot or is shy, it might not work."

A career in academics sometimes makeconventional child care not feasible, according toJoseph J. McCarthy, assistant dean for academicplanning.

"The need for child care in this constituencyis considerable because it doesn't have isconsiderable because it doesn't have to do withthe typical nine-to-five," McCarthy say. "Thesepeople have various colloquia seminars andmeetings they need to attend at different hours.Laboratory experiments don't follow regular hourseither."

"Their jobs are boundless in many ways," agreesMary G. Opperman, director of employee services."They aren't working nine-to-five. It's exactlythat which makes all the services available in thecommunity not particularly helpful."

"If you have a 7:30 a.m. lab, where are yougoing to find a day care center?" she says. "Ifyou have a course at 2:30 and your kid's got arecital, you can't take a half day off."

At the University of Colorado, Greene alsostays home half days three days a week. And Friendreports often bringing Ayse and Kurt to work withher.

Mandryk always takes Nicholas and Zachary withher on digs.

"A lot of people think that's bizarre," Mandryksays. "Before I took them with me the first time,I kept saying that I was unwilling to be a man andleave my kids behind. They're too young to leave."

But whatever the day care arrangements, crisescan result when children get sick.

"If it would come to that, I would cancelclass," Greene says. "I could imagine it might."

Professors say that in large measure they haverelied on luck; they've had relatively healthy,happy and flexible children.

Juggling Priorities

Professors say balancing work pressures andfamily demands requires constant planning and,sometimes, a willingness to make sacrifices.

"It's a continual balancing act because,especially in the early stages of your career, youhave to keep pushing to grind out the work," Davissays. "But at the same time, when it's time to gopick up the baby, there's no alternative."

Friend says having children does not affect thecore of her work, the teaching and research, buthas meant that she has fewer outside commitmentsthan she might otherwise.

"I have to decide if it's worth it to assume acertain responsibility or go give a lecturesomeplace." she says.

Mandryk says she works to partition her day sto limit te conflict the two sets ofresponsibilities can create.

"[A friend told me] she decided to be 100percent a professor when the kids were in day careand 100 percent a mother when the kids were home.That's how I've been trying to operate here," shesays.

"As long as I'm working and away from my kids,I don't feel guilty," Mandryk says. "I try tobring as little as possible home to do. And if Ido [bring work home], I don't do it until they'reasleep."

Family-friendly

According to the February 1995 report of theWork and Family Committee, which was formed in1993 by President Neil L. Rudenstine, facultymembers report "they encounter an underlyingattitude that time spent on family is proof of alack of commitment to--and even incompatiblewith--building an academic career."

Friend says such attitudes are subtle, but doexist.

"Someone I know called being in academics likejoining a priesthood," she says. "You're expectedkind of to give up everything else and devoteyourself to your work."

"I think it's unfortunate when people [withchildren] downplay parenting when they don't wantto appear less serious," Mandryk says. "Someonetold me they really don't expect you to be male,but they really prefer it if you're neuter."

Several women mention going to meetings as aspecific problem they have encountered.

"A five o'clock meeting is almost animpossibility for me," Mandryk says. "I've beentold that there are departments where this happenson a regular basis."

"If you don't have family responsibilities youcan't understand...that when kids are in day carethat being even five minutes late can besignificant." Friend says. "The reality is mostfaculty at Harvard do not have primaryresponsibility for the family. They're older,they're mainly male. Women who don't have childrenhave similar difficulty understanding."

The administration of the Faculty of Arts andSciences, including Associate Dean for AffirmativeAction Marjorie Garber, is particularly interestedin addressing the issue of meeting time andlength. McCarthy says.

"One of the things I think we are going to tryand do is to work with departments around thequestions of when they schedule meetings at whichparents, male and female, are expected to be inattendance and help them think about this in amore sensitive fashion," he says. "It's easilymodified and could make a great deal ofdifference."

"If the University were family friendly andstill professional, that would be great," Mandryksays. "I won't pretend that being a mother is notimportant to me. I'd like to get the University tohave an attitude that we do value family."

Some women faculty fear that theresponsibilities of motherhood may slow down orhamper their efforts to reach a tenured position.

"I simply can't accomplish as much, or in thesame way or with the same intensity, as someonewithout children," Mandryk says.

And Greene reports that the commitment to herchildren continues to affect how she is perceivedby the academic community even after havingreached a tenured position at the University ofColorado.

"I don't do as much research, as much writingas I did before I had children," she say. "Iprobably am not invited to write as may articlesor to be on as many symposia. But that's choiceI'm willing to make."

Time Change

Still, professors praise the advances theUniversity has made in making it easier forfaculty members to raise children while pursingtheir careers.

The University has introduced a twin policy ofparental leave and teaching relief for parents ofnewborns and newly-adopted children.

"When my first child was born in 1970, I wasteaching at Columbia University," says Professorof Romance Languages Susan R. Suleiman, who hastwo children, Daniel, 18, an Michael, 25.

"I taught on the day he was born and then againone week later," she says. "There was no suchthing as maternity leave."

Parents may now take up to one year off for thebirth of each child, The ten year limit on juniorfaculty teaching at Harvard is extended for eachof those years.

In addition, parents may take either onesemester of full teaching relief or two semestersof half-time teaching relief after their return.

"Those two policies, we believe, have been verysuccessful," McCarthy says.

He says 21 of the 62 junior faculty women havetaken advantage of those policies. He estimatesthat as many as a third of junior faculty womenhave young children.

As a result of the report of the committee, theUniversity has also expanded scholarship funds tohelp faculty members pay for child care andadoption service and established as the servicefor emergency day care relief.

In addition, the University has opened theOffice of Work and Family and Provost AlbertCarnesale will chair a standing committee toaddress these concerns.

"I think it has been successful," says Friendof the efforts of the Work and Family Committee,of which she was a member, "We've laid out theissues. I'm pleased to see that the administrationis also interested in these kind of issues and istaking the actions they can."

But Friend says much work remains to be done.

"Young women should not feel, and many do, thatif they want to go into academics, they cannothave a family," she says. "What I see in womengraduate students is them having trouble seeinghow they can do it. They're kind of negative onacademics sometimes."

Assistant Professor of Economics Caroline M.Hoxby has chosen a career over having a family. Amarried, first-year assistant professor, she saysshe can't imagine having children in the nearfuture.

"Looking toward the future, it's quite clearthat there are tremendous disincentives to havingchildren," she says. "It's difficult to imaginebeing able to spend a sufficient amount of timewith a child and a sufficient amount of time on myresearch,"

Friend suggests that the University adopt anoption for part-time teaching while children areyoung.

"Kids grow up and do that rather rapidly," shesays. "The amount of responsibility and worry goesdown considerably when they get old enough to dothings on their own."

She also would like to see a examination of theprocess by which junior faculty members areevaluated, with greater emphasis on the quantityrather than the quantity of published work.

"If you don't have as much time to devote [toscholarship] you might not be as prolific as someof your male colleagues," Friend says. "But thatdoesn't mean that the quality of what youdo...isn't something that shouldn't be looked at."

Despite the challenges they face in trying tojuggle their students, their research and theirchildren, faculty mothers say they have achieved asense of fulfillment for having at least a pieceof it all.

Both Skocpol and Friend say raising childrenhas given them renewed energy for theirscholarship.

"It makes me maintain some balance in my life.If I didn't have a family, I think I'd probablywork too much, work beyond the point where I'mcreative," Friend says. "I need to get away fromthinking about my work specifically instead ofbeing like a drone all the time."

Mandryk says that in spite of the tensioncreated by having dual responsibilities, her sonshave alleviated some of the pressure of teachingat Harvard.

"I don't know what I would do without thelittle boy hugs and kisses to restore my spiritand put a proper perspective on what reallymatters in life," she says.

Valerie J. MacMillan and Douglas M. Pravdacontributed to the reporting of this story.Photo CourtesyDonald R. DavisDONALD R. DAVIS and his daughter OLIVIA, 10months.

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