G-NTC 6/20

One of two projects I am working on explores the implications of the Family & Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). Before FMLA’s adoption, most institutions had their own terms for maternity leave. President Clinton signed the act, which claims:

[…]the number of single-parent households and two-parent households in which the single parent or both parents work is increasing significantly; it is important for the development of children and the family unit that fathers and mothers be able to participate in early childrearing and the care of family members who have serious health conditions;the lack of employment policies to accommodate working parents can force individuals to choose between job security and parenting;there is inadequate job security for employees who have serious health conditions that prevent them from working for temporary periods[…]

The Family and Medical Leave Act guaranteed certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year and their group health benefits that are also maintained during the leave. As suggested by congressional findings above, FMLA seeks to accommodate the interests of employers as well as to promote equal employment opportunity for men and women. Leave can be taken in periods of weeks, days, hours, and depending on the employer, even minutes. Time taken off due to pregnancy complications can be counted against the 12 weeks of family and medical leave.

Heather Antecol wrote a paper in 2016 titled, Equal but Inequitable: Who Benefits from Gender-Neutral Tenure Clock Stopping Policies? The paper explores the idea that gender-neutral tenure clock stopping policies adopted by research-intensive universities in the United States prove little to no evidence that they actually help women. If anything, their data shows that adoption of these policies have substantially reduced female tenure rates while substantially increasing male tenure rates.

The plan for my project is to replicate the Antecol’s findings using the TRIP Project’s databaseAntecol used data from 1985-2004 and used assistant professor hires at the top-50 economics departments for their sample. Our sample will be larger as it consists assistant professor hires from the top-50 political science departments across the county from 1990-2017. More specifically it will be professors teaching political science with a focus on international relations. Alongside research assistants from the TRIP Project under the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations, I have been searching through university catalogs for assistant professors in the political science departments of the schools. When we were making the rules for what to include in our sample, we made sure to leave out those specializing in public policy, since they typically focus on domestic policy. We have also been CV coding these assistant professors to see when they became assistant professors, when they achieved tenure, and if they did not achieve tenure, we found what they were doing instead.

The sample-building process is time consuming and difficult, but it remains a crucial step in determining where the project goes from here. After we finish collecting our sample, we plan on sending surveys to people who left the tenure track to try and find their reasons for leaving. We hope that our results will match those found in Antecol’s paper.

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