Academic Conferences & Child Care: Still an Issue for Women Academicians

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Women empowerment which leads to increasing and improving the social, economic, political and legal strength of the women to make them confident and self-dependent has also led to a difficulty in balancing parenthood and a successful career in academia for women. Moving parallel with academic conferences and child care holds unique challenges, who often report greater demands in terms of child care and family. The present study considers both tenure status and gender in evaluating the survey responses of full-time, tenure-track academicians regarding their experiences in balancing the demands of parenthood or child care with a career in academia.

Women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, which possess a dramatic shift from a generation ago when only one-third of all workers were women. This data was obtained by the research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, 2009.

Academic conferences are majorly involved in most of the career prospects which requires a wide investment of time, which becomes a real issue for women who are in high demand for their family.

Many women drop out from their academics before reaching the higher positions. The key issue is typically identified as the enormous difficulty of balancing the duties of motherhood with the demands of an academic career.

Women typically balance multiple conflicting roles – academician, mother and homemaker. When domestic work is coupled with a busy academic life, their research activity becomes sidelined.

Impact of job type –Jobs related to travelling for attending different academic conferences brings a conflicting situation for pregnant women and women with a child. Tenure status was used as an indicator of differing work demands and expectations. The rigid 7-year tenure review period typical of most academic institutions is perhaps one of the most significant influences on pretenured academicians who are starting families or raising young children. Individuals facing tenure review must demonstrate high levels of competence and research productivity in the early years of their academic career to avoid losing their jobs. Work/family conflict has been found to be stronger in situations in which there are negative sanctions for noncompliance with role demands, thus the risk of being denied tenure is likely a very significant factor in the work/family stress of pretenured academicians. Considering the rational and role-demand models of work/family conflict, both models would predict that pretenured individuals would report greater levels of work-related stress due to greater demands, perceptions of less control, and greater investment in work hours.

Parental/Maternity leaves experiences – Maternity leave becomes a major issue for women when she comes in a clashing schedule with an academic conference. Many of the women does not gets a proper maternity leave even for an academic conference scheduled few days later due to the preparation she requires to present the conference. Most of the working women are not satisfied with their maternity leave.

Breast feeding at the conference area – This is the most embarrassing and uncomfortable situation arising in front of a woman while she takes along her child to a conference. Women wanting privacy for feeding her child face problem due to the atmosphere of the conference hall and also face problem in time management due to the limited time given to her to speak. This again creates a conflicting situation before her to balance her motherhood and her profession.

Therefore, certain agendas and policies must be assigned to women for her liabilities so that women finds less difficulty in coping up with the conflicting situations before her so that she can serve her best to the job and her family.

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