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U. Minnesota employees want parental leave equity: ‘Not everyone that gives birth IDs as a female’

Employees at the University of Minnesota believe that the school’s current parental leave policy is unfair, and as such assorted governance committees have given the nod to a resolution calling for “equal amounts of leave for all parent-employees.”

Currently, “eligible birthing female employees” get six weeks paid leave, while fathers and adoptive parents get two weeks. According to the Minnesota Daily, the University Professional and Administrative Senate passed a resolution last spring asking for six weeks off for all types of parents.

And, according to Lauren Mitchell, president of the Council of Graduate Students, there’s more to it than just fathers and those who have adopted: “The language is currently gendered. Not everyone that gives birth identifies as a female.”

Oh. OK. Wait …

From the story:

“Adoptive parents should have the same leave as birth parents,” said Randy Croce, a member of the Social Concerns Committee. “It takes time to travel, complete the adoption process and help the child acclimate to their new environment.”

Research on parental leave policies at the University’s peer institutions informed the committee’s resolution writing process, Ringgenberg said.

“Our current [parental leave] policy is not good on a national scale,” he said.

For example, both Ohio University and the University of Michigan grant six weeks of paid leave for any parent, according to their policies.

While advocates hope changing the policy would better support University parent-employees, Croce said more action is needed.

“While policy may say that a mother can take six weeks off, many women don’t feel they can take it because they can’t find someone to cover the workload,” said Michael Kyba, Senate Research Committee member.

Additionally, other employees struggle to find child care for their kids once they return to work, Kyba said. Daycare facilities at the University are unable to accept children under three months old, and the centers often have months-long waiting lists.

But UMN’s current policy appears to be in line with a 2013 study which determined that “women derive more satisfaction than men from basic childcare duties such as changing diapers,” and that “men were far less likely than women to take advantage of paid paternity leave in order to stay home with newborn children.”

There was also this rather intriguing bit of information:

They also learned that the male professors who did so performed significantly less child care relative to their spouses. Worse yet, they report that male tenure-track professors may be abusing paternity leave by using the time to complete research or publish papers, an activity that enhances their careers while putting their female colleagues at a disadvantage. One female participant quoted in the study put it this way: “If women and men are both granted parental leaves and women recover/nurse/do primary care and men do some care and finish articles, there’s a problem.”

Oops. Then again, did some of those male profs merely identify as “male”? Did that female participant just identify as “female”?

Read the full Minnesota Daily article.

MORE: Women enjoy changing diapers, study finds

MORE: San Diego State offers ‘gender affirming therapy’ to students

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