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CAUT Bulletin Archives

September 2005

Parenting and Professing: Balancing Family Work with an Academic Career

Rachel Hile Bassett, ed. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2005; 280 pp; ISBN: 0-8265-1478-2, paper $24.95 us.; ISBN: 0-8265-1477-4, hardcover $69.95 us.
For those outside academia who face the conflicting demands of work and family, the typical professor’s job might seem like a dream occupation — flexible schedule, the ability to do some work from home, summers off. But as this book reveals, that popular image is anything but accurate, especially where women are concerned. Indeed, with their demands for total commitment from professors, colleges and universities offer a generally inhospitable workplace for dedicated parents. As recent research has shown, having babies before gaining tenure can have a considerable negative impact on women’s academic careers, and this problem is clearly a key factor in women’s inability to achieve gender parity in academia. The 24 essays in this collection — almost all of them recounting personal experiences — offer a complex view of both the difficulties and rewards of combining parenting with academic work and provide valuable ideas for how individuals and institutions can create change.
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