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A Call to Action: Taking the Untenable out of Women Professors' Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Caregiving Demands

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Despite becoming increasingly represented in academic departments, women scholars face a critical lack of support as they navigate demands pertaining to pregnancy, motherhood, and child caregiving. In addition, cultural norms surrounding how faculty and academic leaders discuss and talk about tenure, promotion, and career success have created pressure for women who wish to grow their family and care for their children, leading to questions about whether it is possible for these women to have a family and an academic career. This paper is a call to action for academia to build structures that support professors who are women as they navigate the complexities of pregnancy, the postpartum period, and the caregiving demands of their children. We specifically call on those of us in I-O psychology, management, and related departments to lead the way. In making this call, we first present the realistic, moral, and financial cases for why this issue needs to be at the forefront of discussions surrounding success in the academy. We then discuss how, in the U.S. and elsewhere, an absence of policies supporting women places two groups of academics—department heads (as the leaders of departments who have discretion outside of formal policies to make work better for women) and other faculty members (as potential allies both in the department and within our professional organizations)—in a critical position to enact support and change. We conclude with our boldest call—to make a cultural shift that shatters the assumption that having a family is not compatible with academic success. Combined, we seek to launch a discussion that leads directly to necessary and overdue changes in how women scholars are supported in academia.

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Cambridge University Press


caregiving; gender issues in academia; motherhood; work-family support


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Gabriel A. S., Allen T. D., Devers C. E., Eby L. T., Gilson L. L., Hebl M, Kehoe R. R., King E. B., Ladge J. J., Little L. M., Ou A. Y., Schleicher D. J., Shockley K. M., Klotz A. C., & Rosen C. C. (2023). A call to action: Taking the untenable out of women professors’ pregnancy, postpartum, and caregiving demands. Industrial and Organizational Psychology 16, 187–210.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International



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