This paper presents a plan for the implementation of more family-friendly policies at Catholic colleges and universities, both as a matter of justice for women and on behalf of the well-being of families. It is motivated by the teachings of the Catholic social tradition that emphasize the equality and dignity of women; the importance of the dual vocations of Christian parents, who are called to raise children and to work more publicly on behalf of the common good; and the inherent value of children and their right to be properly nurtured and educated within the Christian family. Our starting point is the condition of families in the U.S. today as they struggle to thrive in spite of tremendous demands placed on parents who also work outside the home. We examine the negative effects on women and families that result from a refusal to accommodate parents with young children in the workplace. We are concerned in particular with the challenges faced by women academics at colleges and universities who are also mothers. We argue that, by and large, these women are not adequately supported in academia, even at Catholic universities, in spite of that tradition's professed commitment to the health and well-being of families. Finally, we offer several concrete suggestions by which universities may better support women academics who are mothers, thereby contributing to the well-being of women and families.
In recent decades, longer days and longer workweeks have become the norm in the American workplace. Average workers are expected to spend more and more time at work if they are to succeed in their careers or in certain cases maintain their jobs at all. Academia, along with medicine and law, is particularly time-intensive. In fact, on average, the more successful a person is, the longer his or her workweek (Hewlett, 2002). Hochschild (2001), a sociologist, argues in The Time Bind that this long hour work culture "has largely competed with the family, and won" (p. 203). In our society, when work and family have gone to battle, work has too often come out ahead and, in some cases, has dealt the family a fatal blow.
Hochschild explains how this has occurred. The so-called first shift of one's day at the workplace increasingly takes more time, which infringes on the second-shift of one's day, involving the work done to care for home and family. As Hochschild (2001) explains, "The longer the workday at the office or plant, the more we feel pressed at home to hurry, to delegate, to forgo, to segment, to hyperorganize the precious remains of family time" (p. 215). In other words, we begin to run our household like a business to improve efficiency: we hire others to care for our children for long periods of the day; we pack in activities, so that soccer games, baths, and reading time are slotted and completed on strict schedule; we prepare meals as quickly as possible, often compromising nutritional value; we pencil in quality time with our children--all in an attempt to use effectively the scarce and precious time of the second shift. Furthermore, Hochschild points out that parents now face a third shift as a result of their time deficit and their attempts to solve it, such as hurrying and organizing. In this third shift, parents engage in "noticing, understanding, and coping with the emotional consequences of the compressed second shift" (Hochschild, 2001, p. 215). In other words, parents must spend a good deal of time emotionally consoling and decompressing their children, who suffer the consequences of an increasingly tight second shift.
The time bind described so vividly by Hochschild is particularly intense for women who continue to do the vast majority of housework and childcare, even when they work outside the home. The entree of large numbers of women into the labor force in the past quarter century created high hopes on the part of feminists and others that men would begin to take …