Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Push the tenure clock back?

I was hosting the HS students who bussed in to see Cool Sciencey thing, and they seemed to love it. Ahh, the rewards. That felt great. As we were chatting with their teacher, he said, "last year you were on maternity leave when we took this trip". Yes, its true.

I was also working with my co-teacher for low-level absolute favorite subject which is taught every other year. We were trying to put the right year on last time we taught. I said, "was I pregnant then?" She said "yes, you announced during the semester".

Then it really hit me. By having my babies two years apart, conceiving at about the same time both times (Hey its cold out there in Jan... :) ), I am basically going to be missing a big chunk of my teaching. This is my fourth year. My second year spring, I was pregnant (and exhausted and nauseous) the spring semester, then I had maternity leave in the Fall of my third year. Now I am pregnant in the Spring of my fourth year and will have maternity leave the Fall of my 5th year. So 9 semesters, 4 affected by childbearing; That's 44% of my time here. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating, because I was able to work a lot of that. Let's then say 9 semesters, two in which I took major time off (the maternity leave). That means I've only really worked 78% of my semesters. That's a C+ .

I've been naively assuming that it wouldn't affect me negatively at tenure time. But now I'm starting to wonder: push back the tenure bid a semester? I'm loathe to do that, because I feel I am doing really well despite it. My evals are generally very good, and I haven't taken a lighter schedule aside from maternity leave. In addition, I've worked many summers voluntarily, serve on more committees than one should, do a ton of community service (i.e. the HS students). I am really pulling my weight around here, despite the single motherhood. My research is active and of good quality (but I haven't written that paper yet). Besides, given the difficulty we have finding adjuncts for me, I can't imagine I'd be easy to replace.

That sounds like a lot of hubris. I think I'll ask my chair what he thinks about the maternity/ tenure issue.

Any ideas from the intelligent people that nonetheless read my blog? :)


  1. I am still a grad student, but I have heard the following advice from tenured moms: take the extra time you can when it comes to the tenure clock; in fact, they were advocating that the clock extension should just be automatic!

  2. You should discuss this with your dept chair and/or your faculty mentor. Also check and see whether you can simply postpone submitting your tenure packet by a semester or two or whether you need to formally stop the tenure clock prior to actually taking your maternity leave.