Best Practice: Change the Culture

Change Your Caregiving Culture & Attitudes

Both caregiving & work are fundamental human experiences and animals do both all the time. The problem is not with our caregiving responsibilities; the problem is with work institutions.

  • Caregiving & career are not inherently “conflicts”
  • Care work-life or work and caregiving “balance” is a myth
  • Caregiving should not be “a barrier to overcome” to have a career
  • Participate in reframing and normalizing caregiving
  • Academic careers shifts happen long blocks of time, 3-10 years typically. It is unrealistic to act as though people will not have life events requiring changes in caregiving roles in lengths of time that long (e.g. self-care/health change, kids, parents, partners). Historically, men relied on women to do this work and that is why it was less visible.

Become educated about intersectionality & inequity for caregivers. Intersections include: gender, race and ethnicity, sexual and partner orientation, socioeconomic class, formalized and legalized relationship statuses, academic institution types, employment status, and various types of caregiving that are not parenthood and especially motherhood (e.g. self-care, partner care, eldercare).

  • Acknowledge your personal and institutional complicities in exacerbating and perpetuating caregiving inequalities.
  • Institutionalized inequities for caregivers have patterned physical and mental health impacts. These further advantage non-caregivers and secondary caregivers.
  • Caregivers must “satisfice” and settle in career. This is not “opting out” of career tracks. It is being locked out of career paths because of problematic workplace culture & attitudes about caregiving. Leaking pipelines occur at three different career stages: (1) grad school/MA stop/ABD; (2) Postdoc to tenure-track; (3) associate/tenured to full professor.
  • Stop shaming people with caregiving responsibilities.
  • Stop shaming and discriminating against people with career path shifts (e.g. take caregiving leave or have resume/CV breaks, or between academia, corporate work, non-profit work, and applied work).
  • Role model support and advocacy for employees and students with less power than you.
  • Be willing to sacrifice some of your entitlements to create a more equitable workplace for contingent employees and students.
  • Critique and de-naturalize tenure and graduate school timelines.