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
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

As the pay of BBC on-air talent is revealed, one academic comes clean about his salary

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way

Capsized woman and boat

Early career academics can be left to sink or swim when navigating the choppy waters of learning scholarly writing. Helen Sword says a more formal, communal approach can help everyone, especially women

Thorns and butterflies

Conditions that undermine the notion of scholarly vocation – relentless work, ubiquitous bureaucracy – can cause academics acute distress and spur them to quit, says Ruth Barcan