Making space for graduate student parents: Practice and politics

Kristen W. Springer, Brenda K. Parker, Catherine Leviten-Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Workg-family issues of graduate students are nearly invisible, despite record numbers of men and women in graduate school during their peak childbearing years. Furthermore, very little is known about what, if any, services are available for graduate student parents. In this article we describe the theoretical and practical tensions between society's view of idealized mothering and academia's vision of graduate students as idealized workers. We then present results of a survey about parental supports for graduate students administered to graduate directors of sociology PhD programs. The results demonstrate that few official policies exist, most situations are accommodated individually, and graduate directors are often unaware of university services for graduate student parents. The article concludes with a detailed presentation of potential departmental and university initiatives designed to support graduate student parents. These initiatives can be readily incorporated by graduate departments and universities to help curb the leaking pipeline of women in academia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-457
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • Family-friendly
  • Graduate student parents
  • Parental support policies
  • University policies
  • Women in academia


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