Leave of care

September 24, 2015

I note not a single comment from an academic taking leave to spend time with their children in the feature about summer holidays (“Lazy, hazy, crazy days”, Features, 17 September). The smug “look how successful I am because I take the least leave” culture in academic life is very unhelpful to those who have no choice but to do so.

We all know that we must “make arrangements”; that’s what you sign up for as a parent, and we make good use of our university’s excellent summer childcare. But my six weeks of leave can only be used in the summer because of teaching, marking and exam commitments at other school holiday times, and my children can only spend longer quality time with me in their six-week summer holiday. Some of my senior colleagues suggest that I can work with the children around, surely? Or that “they must be old enough to entertain themselves by now...?”

Do the kids of academics deserve less time with their parents than others? What about others who, year round, depend on carers to take their annual leave in full? Can we ever have this conversation in public without feeling that we jeopardise our position or incite the blank faces, minor revulsion or ridicule of those who don’t get it?

Outsourcing caring is not fair, desirable, affordable or possible for everyone. Pretending that caring does not affect work will not make the social requirement go away. Ignoring it will just perpetuate the (gendered) inequalities within higher education.

Name and address supplied

Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com

Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday. View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Scholar in Medicine

University Of Queensland

Manager, Research Systems and Performance

Auckland University Of Technology

Lecturer in Aboriginal Allied Health

University Of South Australia

Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery

Western Sydney University

College General Manager, SHE

La Trobe University
See all jobs

Most Viewed

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi