I have previously posted about tenure clock stoppages and the fact that there is no concurrent NIH productivity clock stoppage (then there was a follow up post as well)… I thought that in light of the discussion about gender over at Drugmonkey, which in recent comments seems to have shifted back around to tenure clocks and the productivity gap… I would re-post my original thoughts on the matter here for anyone who missed it the first time or would like to continue the discussion we were having at that time – see below for the text of the original post.
I see that Drugmonkey has also posted a round-up of all the posts on other sites driven by the conversation that’s been going on around the blogosphere about this in the last few days.
Ok, here’s what I wrote the first time:
The P word: P for Productivity.
I’m thinking a lot about this right now… and I want to put this in the context of tenure clocks. Many places allow their women faculty to ’stop’ the tenure clock when they have a child (or adopt one, I presume). Ok, we don’t have very modern maternity leave policies in this country- you can take 3 UNPAID months by law without losing your job- outside of this things vary from institution to institution, but that’s a whole different soapbox. But it’s the tenure clock stoppage and whether or not that really helps anything, that is my particular sore point right now. These tenure clock stoppages are supposed to be a good idea because generally, when a baby is born, it takes a big chunk out of the mother’s life- pretty much full time for the first 12 weeks, and at least 6 months of sleeplessness to immediately follow (in my own experience w littleDrA#2 this took a good year out of my life- can you say 8 ear infections in one year?). The idea is to keep women moving up the ranks by allowing for this lapse in productivity. Presumably, it is not inappropriate to let your chair (or whoever) know that you are expecting… and do whatever protocol is necessary in order to achieve said tenure clock stoppage, right? That would mean that whoever is in charge would have to know your own particular ‘family’ circumstances- and I wouldn’t think that is inappropriate information.
But here is the thing- I don’t really think it makes a bit of difference if the tenure clock is stopped… if you are in a must-get-grant type faculty position. NIH has got a clock too- and it is a productivity clock… run by good-old-boys (and some good-younger-boys, and some good-old-girls that didn’t have kids… and yes there are exceptions to everything), that doesn’t take into account lapses in productivity due to childbearing (or any other kind of family obligation… like elder care etc). I suppose this bugs me because this will always be a problem for young women who have children either during their postdoctoral years or early in their faculty positions. These are times when productivity can just cease completely when the birth of a child happens- many postdocs and many young faculty may not have staff/students etc. working for them immediately. Just depends on the circumstances.
And, although it is considered perfectly appropriate to talk about this within the institution- where tenure-clock extensions are granted…my sense is that there isn’t a place for this consideration where federal grants are concerned. Just doesn’t seem like stopping the tenure clock makes that much difference without stopping the NIH clock,…. What do y’all think?