There's a policy: nobody bats an eye at babies being born, a critical feminist policy discourse analysis of a paid parental leave policy
All Rights Reserved T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f U t a h G r a d u a t e S c h o o l STATEMENT OF DISSERTATION APPROVAL The dissertation of Jennifer Lynn Allie has been approved by the following supervisory committee members: Andrea Rorrer , Chair ABSTRACT Research has continued to suggest high institutional costs of not accommodating work-life balance, and institutions of higher education are recognizing the importance of formally addressing these issues in the increasingly competitive labor
... competitive labor market. However, there is concern whether faculty members 1) are actually aware of policies; 2) feel safe in using work-life policies, particularly if they perceive them to be contested 3) and actually use policies. The research surrounding flexible tenure policies has also indicated that policies that lack the support of administration and academic colleagues have the propensity to serve as catalysts for hostile or overt bias for faculty who opted to utilize these policies. This study aims to spotlight how the discursive framing of childbearing and caregiving within the ideologies of tenure may disrupt or sustain the status quo of the committed, productive, present, and collegial ideal tenure track faculty member. The results are framed within a critical feminist policy discourse analytical framework with particular attention paid to the social, historical, and political contexts of the academy, including assumptions about the ideal worker norms of the tenured professoriate within research institutions. The method for data collection and data analysis was situated within a critical feminist policy discourse framework. The historic structure of the tenure track has been positioned as inconducive to balance and life integration, particularly for women. The policy and individual level iv discourse constructed caregiving in a way that may prove problematic for both male and female faculty parents, and even more problematic for the (re)production of the ideal tenure faculty cultural model. Nonbirth mothers and fathers who serve as primary caregivers must document and attest to their role in order to be eligible for the benefit. Consequently, the framing of the policy problem against the rhetoric of women in the academy results in institutional policy solutions and practices that focused on one category of faculty (read: women).