We sometimes focus too hard on the struggle with the regressive jerks who squawk and scream on the internet, but I have to tell you — they are completely irrelevant to major policy initiatives in academia (note: this does not mean academics can’t be assholes, too, it just means policies try to be more enlightened). Every time I have to deal with the people managing the major granting institutions, it’s simply taken for granted that we will be doing our best to encourage equal opportunities for everyone. The blind stupidity we seem to encounter when dealing with leaders of major skeptical organizations just doesn’t happen — that behavior would get them fired.
Latest example: the NSF is expanding maternity leave opportunities. Why? It’s obvious: because sexist policies derived from the conventions of the 1950s drive good people out of science.
Instituted in 2012, NSF’s Career-Life Balance (CLB) Initiative is an ambitious, ten-year initiative that will build on the best of family-friendly practices among individual NSF programs to expand them to activities NSF-wide. This agency-level approach will help attract, retain, and advance graduate students, postdoctoral students, and early-career researchers in STEM fields. This effort is designed to help reduce the rate at which women depart from the STEM workforce. Further information on the CLB initiative may be found on the Foundation’s website.
The purpose of this DCL is to announce a new opportunity for GRFP institutions to submit supplemental funding requests to sustain the research of active NSF Graduate Research Fellows who have been granted an NSF-approved medical deferral for dependent-care (family leave) situations (see Guide for fellowship status options). This gender neutral supplemental funding opportunity is in addition to the limited paid leave option for Fellows on Tenure with an NSF-approved medical deferral. GRFP institutions are invited to submit supplemental funding requests to provide additional personnel (e.g., research technicians or equivalent) to sustain the research of NSF Graduate Research Fellows on approved medical deferral due to dependent care (family leave) situations. The supplemental funding request may include funding for up to 3 months of salary support for the additional personnel, for a maximum of $12,000 in salary compensation. The fringe benefits and associated indirect costs may be in addition to the salary payment and therefore, the total supplemental funding request per Fellow may exceed $12,000. The supplemental request also must include a letter from the Fellow’s faculty advisor supporting the CLB/GRFP Supplemental Funding Request.
Beneath the bureaucratese, it’s pretty simple: gender-neutral family leave opportunities are now available at all ranks of the scientific enterprise, from graduate students on up. And they don’t ask questions.
There should be no privacy related information provided in this request, i.e., the rationale for leave should not be disclosed to NSF.