One thing I would like to change about higher education . . . I would like to see an improvement in the work-life balance. This is one topic that I address in my scholarly essay. Unfortunately, from here on, I can only mostly comment on the female experience with respect to work-life balance, as my essay focuses mostly on the role of women in academic medicine.
One really interesting article I read was written by Tessie W. October and found in Frontiers in pediatrics this year. I won’t go into too much detail as I discuss this further in my essay but basically this is an article discussing a woman’s various thoughts during maternity leave for each of her three children. It chronicles some of the really important bias and stereotypes that women in academic medicine, who also have families, face. It discusses the bias she has of herself when she tries to be the perfect mother as well as the perfect academic physician. Also it discusses the biases of society when they chastise her for utilizing her maternity leave in a way they feel is unmotherly. I really enjoyed the article (and will include a link at the end of this blog) as a way to capture many of the reasons, in my opinion, women feel that they are constantly failing at work-life balance . . . especially in academic medicine.
I feel like an improvement in this aspect is important to not only maintaining women in academic medicine (and likely higher education), but too also simply improving the institution as a workplace. Again, I am biased towards the female aspect as that what what my paper focused on, but many of the studies I looked at evaluated both men and women. In general, women generally were more dissatisfied with work-life balance then men. So, if we as an institution can make it easier to achieve such a balance through the use of emergency daycare options, flexible maternity leave, work-at-home options, lactation rooms, etc., I think we can improve the working capabilities of women in academic medicine (and higher education).