What is the impact on colleges and universities of not providing comprehensive child care supports? Multiple studies in recent years all point to the same conclusion: Academic institutions must become more family-friendly or risk being at a competitive disadvantage in the recruitment and retention of faculty and graduate students. Specific concerns include:
- Underrepresentation of women among tenured faculty and senior administrators
- Loss of young academic talent ' both men and women ' who choose to pursue careers in private industry because of perceived opportunities for faster advancement, higher salaries, and better quality of work/life integration
- Competition to attract top undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral fellows, who look to faculty for potential mentors and advisors
Loss of TalentColleges and universities are at risk of losing key contributors as these individuals start their families. Forty percent of faculty, staff, and students with young children reported they are considering seeking a position at another institution or outside of academia. Approximately one quarter of each constituency has seriously considered leaving their current institution due to child care concerns. Of survey respondents currently expecting a child, 12 percent indicated that they are not planning to return to work/school following the birth of their child. However, 88 percent of these respondents would return if campus child care were available. Given the predicted labor shortage and the higher percentage of undergraduate and graduate degrees earned by women, child care and work/life concerns will increasingly become a factor in recruiting new faculty and attracting graduate students. Moreover, as more institutions respond to child care concerns, the competition for talent will intensify at colleges and universities that do not offer these types of programs.
Reduced ProductivityFaculty, staff, and student respondents with young children reported that child care challenges impair their ability to concentrate, meet expectations, take on more responsibilities, and complete projects on time. A higher percentage of students reported difficulty with these areas of productivity compared with faculty and staff, with the lowest percentage of difficulty reported by staff. In addition to respondents' self-reports of loss of productivity, we found that 67 percent of parents have left early or arrived late to work/class an average of 10.5 times in a six-month period due to child care issues. Forty-two percent have missed work/school altogether due to their child care arrangement not being available an average of 3.6 times within a six-month timeframe. Survey respondents further illustrated their diminished productivity due to child care issues:
- Sixty percent of responding faculty have cancelled office hours or student/faculty appointments.
- Thirty-five percent of both faculty and graduate students have been unable to apply for a grant or participate in an externally funded study or have interrupted or suspended their work on a grant or research initiative.
- Sixty percent of responding graduate students with young children have been unable to complete their degree as quickly as their ability would indicate, and 37 percent have considered ending their education before completion. These data points indicate a loss to the academic field in terms of having candidates to fill future positions.
- Given the high cost of child care in many parts of the country, 40 percent of graduate students report taking on an additional job to pay for child care. This additional job takes time away from their studies, research, and/or sleep, which all impact on their overall ability to be productive and achieve their academic goals.