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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Math Geek Mom: Maternity leave and my first year (Mod 7)
October 29, 2009 - 8:47pm

If you try to divide 365 by 7, it does not come out evenly. 364, however, does divide evenly, meaning that if you divide 365 by 7, you get a remainder of one. This fact, when coupled with information on leap years (every 4 years), non-leap years (what should be leap years, but end in 10) and “re-instated” leap years (years that end in 10 that should be a leap year, but also are divisible by 200, such as 2000 was), one is able to use this information to fairly easily learn what day of the week any day in history falls on. This is the trick used by entertainers who easily rattle off the day of the week of people’s date of birth and of important historical events. It relies on the mathematical idea of congruencies, which allows us to solve problems where the solutions must be integers and is the basis of much of the cryptography that is used in computer based commerce. We would describe the fact that 365 has a remainder of 1 when divided by 7 by writing it as 365 ≡ 1(mod 7), read as “365 is congruent to 1, modulo 7” If we had a clock with 7 hours on it, the clock would rotate 52 times and then one more hour, as if it had moved only one hour.

I thought of this recently when I stumbled upon my first entry in this forum, and realized that the date fell on a Saturday this year, instead of the Friday from last year. As the year moved forward by one year, the “remainder” day brought us to the next day of the week. Wow, I have been writing this for one whole year, I realized!

It has been an interesting year. In that year I learned many things. I learned that I CAN write an essay under pressure, and that sometimes the ones that I write at the last minute are the best. I learned that not every college nurtures its adjuncts like we do, although I suspect that most adjuncts wish they did. And I learned that there is an “anti-adoption” movement out there. This movement found me in response to an entry I wrote, before I later found out more about them through the miracle of on-line searches. I suggest that anyone interested in learning more about this movement initiate a similar search. And then, as I re-read my first post, I realized that my involvement with “Mama, Ph.D” has been longer than one year, but has covered quite a few years, to be exact.

I stumbled upon a call for papers for the book “Mama, Ph.D.” while searching for information on maternity leaves at other schools during my last round on the Faculty Benefits Committee. I was determined to design a maternity leave policy for our college, and, if nothing else, get the Tenure Committee (which I was also on) to recognize maternity issues as a reason to adjust the tenure clock. I was not successful at either, but did find Mama, Ph.D. in the process, and began to think of myself as a writer as well as a Math Geek. Now that I have begun nurturing this creative side of my personality, I am back to the mission that set me on this path. I am back on the Faculty Benefits Committee, and I want to hear from colleagues about the maternity policies at their schools.

Ursuline, like most of the colleges in our area, relies on short-term disability leaves to grant faculty maternity leave, which means that new fathers and adoptive parents are not eligible. Although Family and Medical Leave is available to faculty, they must pay premiums out of pocket during the time away from work. This, while not perfect, is actually generous when compared to what is available to most of the staff.

And so, I put out the question for all of my readers; what kind of maternity leave does your college provide? I hope to hear from people from all different types of colleges; small, large, in-between, public, private, religious, etc. Indeed, I have begun the conversation on my own, among faculty peers at various colleges, and have heard many interesting things.

The most remarkable story has to be the one I heard third hand recently. A professor, nine months pregnant, was not allowed to begin her maternity leave until she went into labor. Amazed at this, she asked her superiors what to so if her water broke in front of the class. Their reply was that it would be a biohazard and that they would e-mail her a copy of the relevant protocol for dealing with such a situation.

PLEASE tell me that someone has a better approach to designing a maternity leave than the one that woman faced at her school! And, while we are at it, I would be interested in hearing about sick day policies at other schools, especially for those of us who teach courses that are difficult to find substitutes for at the last minute.


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