It's in Their Interest, Too
You want to take a caregiving leave. Or you're interested in working part time for a while, yet remaining on the tenure track. Or maybe you ask for a maternity leave and your department head agrees, so long as you find someone to cover your classes while you are gone. (The latter actually happened to someone I know, even though it is illegal under federal law unless the same requirement is imposed on anyone who takes a short-term leave, say, after a heart attack or prostate cancer). How do you approach your chairman? (And chances are it will be a man.) Do you get on your knees and beg? Do you go in with a lawyer in tow, talk about gender bias, and win the battle but lose the war? It's best to start by thinking about it from the chairman's point of view. He has a department to run, courses to staff, precedents to worry about.
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