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Babies of graduate students in biology

mynlieffm at vms.csd.mu.edu mynlieffm at vms.csd.mu.edu
Wed Oct 16 14:26:08 EST 1996

In article <32652787.2A9F at salk.edu>, S L Forsburg <forsburg at salk.edu> writes:
>Deb Britt wrote:
>>  Having a baby changes
>> your life more than you can imagine, and having a supportive boss can make
>> a huge difference.  It would also be nice if grad schools considered this
>> issue, and had in place defined guidelines regarding maternity leaves,
>> insurance, etc.  
>A lot of students and postdocs are paid
>by their PI's grants.  What happens to them if they take 3 months
>off for maternity?  Or six months?  I'm really curious about this--
> I can see several sides to this question.  If I were paying someone
>my grant to do the work, and the work werent getting done, then
>I'd be in trouble, no matter how supportive I want to be.  Does
>NIH have a policy?  on its training grants? What about other
>fellowhsp agencies?  As I recall, in
>theory they don't even allow you to take vacations....part of 

When a post doc is written into a grant you usually put in fringe benefits as
well.  Disability pay is a fringe benefit so depending on the policies of a
University the post doc may or may not qualify.  When one pays into a
disability policy (either directly themselves or by means of fringe benefits
paid by their employer) isn't all of the money collected from all of the
employees and pooled.  Then when one employee needs disability leave (that is
how our university handles maternity leave - as a disability) they are paid
from this pool of money not from the normal "salary pool".  Under these
circumstances it wouldn't come directly from the PI's grant.  Or am I mistaken? 
The real problem is that many post docs and almost all grad students don't
qualify for benefits.  I had my first while a post doc.  Since I had my own
NRSA and was productive my advisor let me take what I wanted (I ended up with
10 weeks).  As a new faculty member I found out that I didn't qualify for
maternity benefits because you had to be here 1 year before they went into
effect (I had my second 9 months after I started a faculty position  ;-) ).  On
the books it said that faculty receive 4 weeks vacation so I didn't take any
days off during those first 9 months (my water even broke at work) so I would
at least have the 4 weeks.  I just took the extra 2 weeks I needed so that my
daughter would be old enough for daycare (6 weeks).  My chairman was very
understanding and since it was summer and I wasn't teaching there weren't any
problems.  I would still say that the post doc years are the best time for
having babies.  If you take some extra time as a postdoc, no problem (or you
can even take time off and still find another postdoc).  As a pre-tenure
faculty member, however, the clock is ticking.  Our university even has a
"family friendly" policy so that you get an extra year to get tenure if you
have a baby in pre-tenure years.  You have to request it immediately when the
baby is born.  Both men and women qualify and so far mostly men have requested
the extra year! 

Michelle Mynlieff
Dept. of Biology
Marquette University

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