Our books

Become a Fan

« Representation in professional organizations | Main | Choosing job-talk papers »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I agree with B. Put on your CV periods when you were not active in academia because you were taking time off to look after a young child. Calling it "maternity leave" or "parental leave" is fine. In searches I've been involved in (at an R1 school), I would discount this time when considering candidates' research outputs -- so I would count 4 articles from someone who graduated 2 years ago the same as I would 4 articles from someone who graduated 4 years ago and took 2 years of parental leave since then.

Indeed, if the alternative is adjuncting, I think it might actually be better to be on parental leave for a year (or two). If you're adjuncting that makes it look like you couldn't get anything on the job market that year; whereas if you were on parental leave then that communicates no information about how successful you would have been that year, had you been on the job market.


I agree with Troy - even if there is some bias against motherhood (although I wouldn't necessarily assume that what is true generally is true in academia, at least not at the same rate) there could (and I think often is) more of a bias against adjuncting, being unproductive for "no reason," or simply being away from academia.

Anon prof

I would think that active research and maintaining connections and productivity during this time would be really important if you want to "stay in the game" -- Also, 1 semester is one thing (that's what one might get off if one is a salaried instructor or professor) but 2 years is another. I would look at that and say "that's not maternity leave, it's just taking a long break" ... However, if you were productive in this time it would not matter.

Martin Lenz

Timely post! Here's a reply: https://handlingideas.blog/2019/06/16/framing-employment-in-higher-education-and-fathers-day/


Martin (and other commenters)- thank you. I'm not sure I clearly conveyed in my original post that I want to spend time taking care of and educating the child I already have, while also hopefully expanding my family. I didn't realize how much crucial education happens in the early years before Pre-K and I've come to believe it's a more valuable use of my time to be teaching and taking care of my child than adjuncting for wages we can't live off of. I think I will be a better parent and a better philosopher if I can focus on parenting (and doing research when I can), rather than simultaneously having a relatively high teaching load, being on the market, researching, and parenting (let alone trying to do anything else or have anything resembling work-life balance). This doesn't mean I won't end up adjuncting next year, because I'm afraid of losing any chance of getting a permanent job in philosophy. I'm still trying to decide what to do. I would add (as I think Martin conveys in his article) that child care is not by any means a break. It is more challenging and exhausting than any other work I've done. For comparison, since having my child, I have often felt while teaching or writing (or even grading) that I was "getting a break."


Dear Anonymous:

This doesn't really answer your question, perhaps, since times have changed in various ways, but you might find Ruth Millikan and Ruth Barcan Marcus' Dewey Lectures of interest - both, I think, spend various amounts of time unemployed or employed only in an adjunct fashion. Millikan talks about caring for kids a bit in her essay.

The classic case, though, is Marjorie Greene, who spent 15 years as a farmer and mother before eventually returning to a full time career. Her autobiographical remarks in the Schilpp volume are worth a read, if for nothing else than her fascinating life.

I'm afraid I'm not in an epistemic position to answer your difficult question. I'd like to think that it wouldn't mean losing your chance at a permanent job if you took a couple of years off to care for your children. But I don't know of current cases. It could be that the job market is so bad that it doesn't matter that much (given that the market has large "lottery elements" to it, anyway.) I'd like to think if you started doing interesting work again (after a hiatus, say), that would be what matters most. But I don't think anyone knows. One thing you don't say is whether you're aiming more for research or more for teaching jobs. That might matter: if it is teaching jobs, and you already have significant experience, a year or two off might not matter much.

Ditto for research: if you think you can - after a year or two off - come up with some significant research output, then you might have as good a chance at a research job as you would've just from teaching a course or two (maybe better, if adjuncting takes away from your research time).

Anon prof

Anonymous -- I didn't mean to imply that "taking a break" meant such a person would have an easy time of it -- I have several children of my own and have stayed home with them for long stretches, months at a time -- I'm always very much relieved to get back to "work".

By taking a break I just meant a break *from philosophy*, if you aren't conferencing/publishing etc.

That said, I believe you are right that family is much more important than philosophy. And it also makes me a better philosopher.


Chris-Thanks for your comments. I am not in the same league intellectually as Ruth Millikan or Ruth Barcan Marcus, but it is somewhat reassuring to think about them having been in similar situations at some point. Also, ideally I'd have a research job at something like an R2 institution, but I'd be perfectly happy with a teaching job. My teaching portfolio is much stronger than my research portfolio at this point (one reason why I'm tempted to step away from low-paying adjuncting for a period of time to hopefully get some more publications and conference presentations in if I have a chance while parenting full-time).

Anon prof: Thank you.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Job-market reporting thread

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Job ads crowdsourcing thread

Philosophers in Industry Directory