[Parentsgroup-list] family-friendly policies, GSAS?

Diana Ramirez ramirez at fas.harvard.edu
Sat Mar 4 11:21:07 EST 2006

Remember how good the talk surrounding the 'extra year' for students who
need to work at a reduced rate due to pregnancy or the need care for small
children sounded back in December?

Aparently, Dean Skocpol, while emphasizing that we 'get this extra year' is
now also proposing a new regulation to reduce the number of G8+ students.
According to the representative for my department (architecture and urban
planning) attending Monday's GSC meeting, there was mention that "If this
proposal is accepted, the number of offers that a department can make will
be reduced by the number of its G8+ students. Translation: if a department
typically admits four students but has two who are G8+, it will only be able
to make two offers that year. This has not yet been approved, but it is
being debated."

Which seems to mean that even when in theory our 'thesis clock' can be
stopped during pregnancy or while caring for small children, in practice it
could actually be prevented from clicking past the 7th year. And of course,
I can also imagine departmental pressure being exerted over those who take
this "extra" year without officially stopping the clock...

Has anyone heard from Skocpol or other officials at GSAS about how their
incipient family-friendly policies might combine with the g8+-unfriendly


from Christine Dianne Wenc  
> <wenc at fas.harvard.edu> -----
>     Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2005 10:05:56 -0500 (EST)
>     From: Christine Dianne Wenc <wenc at fas.harvard.edu>
> Reply-To: Christine Dianne Wenc <wenc at fas.harvard.edu>
>  Subject: Re: [Parentsgroup-list] seeking fellowship proposal advice
>       To: Jenny Kirsten Ataoguz <jksmith at fas.harvard.edu>
> A few answers to this question:
> 1. The one benefit we actually have here officially is the ability  
> to stop
> the 'thesis' clock when we have kids.  From the 2004-05 GSAS Handbook
> (everyone gets one every year at registration), p. 51:
> "The department's 'thesis clock' should stop for students who take
> maternity or parental leave, as well as for students who must work  
> at a
> reduced rate because of pregnancy or the need to care for small  
> children,"
> as well as for other personal and family difficulties.
> 2.  Dean Skocpol explicitly emphasized at that meeting that we get  
> this
> extra year.  If anyone in your dept. is not aware of this and is  
> telling
> you otherwise, they can talk with her, or just show them the handbook.
> 3.  Both Cynthis Verba (dir. of fellowships) and Rise Shepsle (the  
> person
> who approves leaves) emphatically emphasized the flexibility of your
> official G year.  In fact, they actually record it in 2 ways, with  
> your
> real year in parentheses if you take a leave.  For me, for
> instance, I'm a G5 (G4).  I'm a G5 in calendar years, but a G4 in
> residence.
> Even if you didn't take a leave, Cynthia also very emphatically stated
> that of COURSE they will take into account the fact that you had a  
> baby!
> (or other major issues) and that you should absolutely not be  
> afraid of
> mentioning this on applications.  (I mean, I wouldn't go on at
> length about all your trials and tribulations, but just state the
> facts.)  Again, if your advisor or someone in
> your dept. is telling you otherwise, the best way to clear this up  
> would
> be to just make an appointment with Cynthia and talk with her.   
> She's very
> accessible
> and helpful--her full-time job, after all, is to help students with  
> grant
> applications.  And perhaps she could set the record straight with  
> whoever
> is telling you otherwise.
> My feeling is that plenty of people, even those who award grants, have
> kids.  They will be extra impressed to see how good your work is  
> AND that
> you also had a baby in the middle of it, and they are not going to  
> fall
> apart when they realize you are a year or so behind.
> Cynthia Verba's email is cverba at fas.harvard.edu.
> By the way, what dept. are you in, Kirsten?  I wonder sometimes if the
> sciences are not as open to this stuff as the humanities.
> Christine
> On Thu, 22 Dec 2005, Jenny Kirsten Ataoguz wrote:
>> dear All,
>> One of the messages on this list, describing a meeting with Dean  
>> Skopcol,
>> includes the following:
>> "Cynthia Verba, who is the Director of Fellowships, really  
>> emphasized that
>> if something major happens to you that affects your G year, it is  
>> absolutely
>> fine to indicate this on any applications."
>> I never took any time off for the birth of my daughter and have  
>> even been
>> told not to mention any such personal things in my application,  
>> although it
>> has certainly impacted my 'G year'.
>> Does anyone have any insight or experience in this matter?
>> Thanks in advance,
>> Kirsten
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