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Paternity leave for professors? What, now the dads have to do something too?

April 21, 2009
Aquatint of a Doctor of Divinity at the Univer...
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Inside Higher Ed profiles the Mama PhD blog that just recently had a discussion about parental leave standards:  who gets what and for how long?  The article discusses different colleagues maternity leaves, and it begins to address paternity, but not entirely.  It seems that in the US, we have this view that only a mother is required to raise an infant, and even she should only be given rest enough to birth, bleed, and then be ready to work-out, rest is entirely left out of that puritanical equation.  So, when do the dads have to do any work?  When will they be recognized as parents and not sperm donors, with t heir own set of responsibilities to their child, not to mention the woman who must birth, bleed, and be ready to run a marathon?

A lot of this boils down to society’s inequity in childcare.  When I studied at  Harvard, I was only one of 2 women with a child in my class, in Education.  Another woman in my program got pregnant and had complications but was denied an extension to the program because, “getting pregnant was her choice.”  The provisions academia makes for mothers are non-existent.  But, I always wonder where the fathers are.  By not giving fathers leave time, the university is essentially dumping the majority of the childcare load on the mothers–not respecting a father’s role in parenting and making a chauvinistic demand of the mothers to parent exclusively.  It would be much more fair to simply set up a specific amount of time that any parent can take when taking on the role of parenting another child, say 6 months, or 4 months ( a semester equivalent), and then letting parents work out the rest between each other.  By not setting  standard parental leave policy, the university practices its own form of chauvinism in the work place.

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