UMBC’s ADVANCE Program has created a unique system of supportive networks for its STEM women faculty and one major impact of UMBC ADVANCE has been its work in interpreting, developing and fully implementing the university’s newest comprehensive family and medical leave policy.
Before ADVANCE, UMBC’s family leave policy was neither well known nor widely used in STEM departments. ADVANCE has worked to educate current and potential faculty, as well as department chairs about the revised policy and the types of family leave and support options available.
In collaboration with the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, UMBC ADVANCE developed the first campus-wide Family Leave brochure. This brochure is frequently handed out to current faculty and department chairs and is given to all prospective faculty during the campus interview.
The focus on family-friendly policies is important for UMBC because unlike the national data where 74% of women Science and Engineering (S&E) faculty and 87% of men S&E faculty are married, 92% of female UMBC STEM faculty and 94% of male UMBC STEM faculty are married or in domestic partnerships. Also, while 42% (women) and 50% (men) of the nation’s S&E faculty have children, 73% of UMBC female faculty and 74% of UMBC male faculty have children. Over the last five years alone a number of junior women faculty in STEM have had children and have worked successfully with their department chairs to create flexible leave plans. ADVANCE assists faculty in determining the types of support plans available and evaluating the options available to them.
Overall, ensuring that women faculty are fully vested in and supported by the university enables them to be better educators and researchers. UMBC’s ADVANCE program has helped STEM departments “support family-friendly issues” like maternity leave while providing “good solutions” for tenure track women who need assistance with work/life balance.
ADVANCE has worked to develop the UMBC Family Support Plan. This plan is based on a broad interpretation of the university’s existing family and medical leave policy. Prior to 2003, none of the female STEM faculty took advantage of family and medical leave. Most used vacation or sick leave in lieu of family or medical leave. From 2003-2008, 25% of the 45 STEM women faculty have requested and made use of a variety of leave and support options.