A somewhat ponderous post:
I was having a conversation the other day about the following features of academic departments, which seems deeply problematic:
a) In academic posts (unlike, it seems, in other jobs), when an employee takes maternity leave, it isn’t automatically the case that a replacement is hired; rather, the workload is distributed amongst colleagues in the department.
b) these colleagues, then, face significant burden when a colleague takes maternity leave.
c) The people who face this potential burden are involved in hiring processes.
To ascertain the extent of the problem, clearly we’d need to know things like:
i. how pervasive is a)? I know that some departments get temporary staff to cover, others don’t.
ii. it certainly seems like this *could* impact on hiring practices, to the detriment of women; how might we ascertain whether it does, and to what extent?
The person with whom I was discussing raises the following interesting point:
“One thing it struck me about the policy: the lower the proportion of women already in the department you’re applying to, the less likely this factor is to adversely affect your chances; does that make it a form of discrimination that is undercut by other forms?”
Any further thoughts on this?
(Thanks to JW for raising this.)