Schimpf, C., Santiago, M., Hoegh, J., Banerjee, D., & Pawley, A. (2013). STEM faculty and parental leave: Understanding an institution’s policy within a national policy context through structuration theory. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 5(2), 103-125.
- This study summarized the role of various factors, both within and outside a university, in shaping use of the university’s parental leave policy.
- The authors conducted semistructured interviews in 2009–2010 with 10 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) faculty members (7 women and 3 men) at a Midwestern university. The interviews aimed to study the barriers STEM faculty face in using the university’s parental leave policy. The authors analyzed these data using a variety of qualitative coding techniques.
- The study found that faculty under-used the university’s parental leave policy for several reasons. First, the opinions of their department chairs and their peers often shaped faculty’s willingness to take parental leave. If faculty felt that their department heads, fellow faculty members, laboratory personnel, and students were supportive of parental leave policies, they were more willing to participate, because they felt less pressure to maintain their typical teaching and research workload after having a child. Additionally, the authors suggested that both knowledge of the parental leave policy and understanding of what was covered, among both the faculty themselves and their supervisors and administrators, was important to ensure that the policy was applied correctly in each specific case.
- The study also noted that faculty saw limitations in the university’s policy because it did not cover professional obligations outside the school, including writing and revising journal articles or managing externally funded laboratory experiments.