Parental Leave

Parental Leave Policies in Academia (2020 – present)

The United States is one of only countries on earth that does not have a national paid family leave policy. While some employers do offer paid leave, it varies widely across positions and organizations. I was recently listening to an episode in the series “It’s a Real Mother” of the parenting podcast, the Longest Shortest Time, where Brigid Schulte was providing an update on the challenges working mothers face, in particular paid leave (see also this excellent piece by New America, ” Paid Family Leave: How Much Time Is Enough?”. This lead me to ponder how academic institutions vary in their parental leave policies.

Across universities, there is massive variation in the length of paid parental leave offered, not only for post-docs, but for faculty, students and staff as well. Some of these differences were documented by Dr. Magaret Kosmala in 2014 via data extraction for 22 universities in the US and in a series of blog posts on parental leave policies for post-docs. The differences in benefits can have profound effects on quality of life, career path, and health of both parents and children (see New America piece above). As such, I think these information should be available more widely available as an additional piece of information to help individuals in choosing a position, be it as a graduate student or as a faculty member. As far as I know, such a database does not currently exist.

With Tess Grainger, I am currently working extraction data on paid parental leave policies across all top research universities in the US and Canada (R1 academic institutions in the United States, U15 in Canada). If you are interested in helping with this project or have data to contribute, please contact me!