MEDIA ALERT: Charmaine Presents at New America Foundation: The Politics of Parental Leave



Charmaine at the

New America Foundation Charmaine recently spoke at the New America Foundation on The Politics of Parental Leave. Her talk was based on her research at The University of Virginia. Her work was funded with a quarter million dollar grant from the Sloan Foundation.

Your Business Blogger found her findings most interesting. In particular, Charmaine discovered that when female academics take parental leave, women use the time off for parenting: to change diapers. Men took the time off to write a book; their wives still changed the diapers.

Who knew male academics were so…traditional?

Charmaine’s topic title was, The Politics of Parental Leave: Is Paid Parental Leave an Effective Means of Promoting Gender Equity in the Workplace? From the New America Foundation website by Paul Testa, Research Associate to the Health Policy Program,

“U.S. political candidates are beginning to produce work and family policy positions in response to what most Americans feel — that work and family balance is a major issue facing American families. Women in particular struggle with such balance and with achieving equality in the workplace. From the floors of Congress to the campaign trails Mandating paid parental leave has often been suggested as a possible solution to such struggles. But is this approach best for women as a whole?

To further this debate, Rev. David Gray, director of the Work Force and Family Program at New America Foundation welcomed Dr. Charmaine Yoest of the Family Research Council for a timely discussion of the politics of parental leave.

Dr. Yoest presented research from her time as the Project Director of the Family, Gender, and Tenure research project at the University of Virginia, which focused on the effectiveness of paid parental leave in academia.

…academia was “crucial case,” to assess whether paid parental leave could really level the playing field for women. “If there’s going to be any place in America where you’d expect paid leave to work, it would be in academia,” she said.

Dr. Yoest’s research centered on a survey of assistant professors with children under the age of two in tenure track positions at universities that offered paid leave policies. Her results questioned several of the traditional assumptions about paid parental leave.

Universities with paid parental leave policies did not have higher levels of female faculty and that paid parental leave policies were not associated with higher rates of promotion for women to more senior faculty positions.

In fact, Dr. Yoest argued paid leave policies may have been detrimental to leveling the playing field. The majority of leave-taking women felt they had less-time for research and writing when they returned and were more likely than their non-leave taking peers to consider dropping off the tenure track. The majority of leave-takers felt such policies made almost no difference in their efforts to receive tenure and some suggested there was a stigma associated with taking a paid leave.

Based on these findings, Dr. Yoest concluded that, “Paid leave may operate as a political fig leaf. The institutional results indicate that the policy by itself does not result in higher levels of achievement for women, making the use of political capital to establish the policy, a poor investment.”

[Her] provocative presentation was followed by lively round of question and answers.”

The New America Foundation has professionally included a video of her 60 minute talk and an audio and her Powerpoint on their site.


Thank you (foot)notes:

Also see You Are Invited: The Politics of Parental Leave at the New America Foundation

And Charmaine’s next talk, MEDIA ALERT: Charmaine at the New America Foundation debating America’s Changing Social Contract

The Effect of Parental Leave Policies

Maternity leave creates workplace debate

What Are the Benefits of Longer Maternity Leave?

House leaders seek to expand staff’s parental leave, By Karissa Marcum, Chris Good contributed to this article.


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1 Response

  1. Thank for posting this. This is a very fascinating topic, and I learned quite a bit. I may just post this over at my counseling blog. 🙂