The PhD Parenthood Trap

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272 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781647120665 ()

ISBN: 9781647120672

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October 2021
Sales Rights: World


Table of Contents

The PhD Parenthood Trap
Caught Between Work and Family in Academia
Kerry F. Crawford and Leah C. Windsor
What it's really like to be a parent in the world of higher education, and how academia can make this hard climb a little less steep

Academia has a big problem. For many parents—especially mothers—the idea of "work-life balance" is a work-life myth. Parents and caregivers work harder than ever to grow and thrive in their careers while juggling the additional responsibilities that accompany parenthood. Sudden disruptions and daily constraints such as breastfeeding, sick days that keep children home from school, and the sleep deprivation that plagues the early years of parenting threaten to derail careers. Some experience bias and harassment related to pregnancy or parental leave. The result is an academic Chutes and Ladders, where career advancement is nearly impossible for parents who lack access to formal or informal support systems.

In The PhD Parenthood Trap, Kerry F. Crawford and Leah C. Windsor reveal the realities of raising kids, on or off the tenure track, and suggest reforms to help support parents throughout their careers. Insights from their original survey data and poignant vignettes from scholars across disciplines make it clear that universities lack understanding, uniform policies, and flexibility for family formation, hurting the career development of parent-scholars. Each chapter includes recommendations for best practices and policy changes that will help make academia an exemplar of progressive family-leave policies. Topics covered include pregnancy, adoption, miscarriage and infant loss, postpartum depression, family leave, breastfeeding, daily parenting challenges, the tenure clock, and more. The book concludes with advice to new or soon-to-be parents to help them better navigate parenthood in academia.

The PhD Parenthood Trap provides scholars, academic mentors, and university administrators with empirical evidence and steps to break down personal and structural barriers between parenthood and scholarly careers.
Kerry F. Crawford is an associate professor of political science at James Madison University. She is the author of Wartime Sexual Violence (Georgetown University Press, 2017) and Human Security: Theory and Action. She is the mother of three young children.

Leah C. Windsor is a research associate professor in the Institute for Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis. She directs the Languages Across Cultures lab and is the author of numerous studies at the intersection of linguistics and political science. She is the mother of two young children.
"The PhD Parenthood Trap provides a well-rounded and thoughtful addition to the literature on work and family life in academia. Its deep dive into topics of particular interest to those beginning their academic careers sheds meaningful light on aspects of managing the demands of work-family life that have previously been ignored. The use of vignettes provides voice and substance that adds to the depth of the work. Readers will appreciate the constructive and timely advice offered in every chapter."—Lisa Wolf-Wendel, professor of higher education administration, The University of Kansas

"This book lives at the intersection of academia and parenthood, combining careful research with human experience to call for much-needed systemic change. It speaks to administrative policymakers, to academic parents and their colleagues, and to non-academic partners and children. I am better for having read it."—Jacqueline H.R. DeMeritt, associate professor of political science, University of North Texas

"Using a combination of individual stories and original survey data, Kerry Crawford and Leah Windsor reveal why family formation and family life are so fraught for so many academics. The book provides deep insight, as well as valuable suggestions. It is a must read for anyone concerned with improving the ways in which family life and work intersect in academia."—Marijke Breuning, professor of political science, University of North Texas

"Kerry F. Crawford and Leah C. Windsor have produced a richly detailed account of academic parenthood that explores the effects of family formation on people's lives and careers. This book should be required reading in graduate seminars, in new faculty orientation, and for anyone in a position of academic leadership."—Cameron G. Thies, professor of political science, Arizona State University

"Impressively informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, The PhD Parenthood Trap: Caught Between Work and Family in Academia is especially recommended reading for scholars, academic mentors, and university administrators who would benefit from empirical evidence and suggested steps to break down personal and structural barriers between parenthood and scholarly careers."—Midwest Book Review

"The PhD Parenthood Trap: Caught Between Work and Family in Academia, is a valuable source of guidance for current academic parents, parents who are considering an academic career, or academics looking to grow their family."—Higher Education Quarterly

"The PhD Parenthood Trap is truly a multi-faceted book. It is a significant piece of scholarship on the state of the profession and academia's (in)ability to support its teacher-scholars."—Journal of Political Science Education

"In summary, The PhD Parenthood Trap is a must-read for higher education faculty and other professionals who seek to understand and ameliorate the difficulties that parents—especially mothers—face in starting families while pursuing academic careers."—Harvard Educational Review

Table of Contents
List of Figures



1. Surviving or Thriving in the Academy? Insights from a Survey on Family Formation and Parenthood

2. Thesis Baby: Getting Student Parents the Support They Need

3. How to Scale the Ladders While Sidestepping the Chutes: On Parenting without the Security of Tenure

4. The Elusive Work-Life Balance: Daily Challenges in Academic Parenting

5. Doctor, Parent: Recognizing the Range of Experiences

6. Sick and Tired: The Physical Toll of Parenthood

7. Love, Loss, and Longing: Fertility Struggles, Adoption, Miscarriage, and Infant and Child Loss

8. Express Yourself: Breastfeeding and Lactation in the Ivory Tower

9. Looking Back, Moving Forward: Conversation Starters for a More Inclusive Academic Environment

Survey Questions


List of Vignette Contributors


About the Authors