Asee peer logo

Demystifying Family Friendly Policies For Faculty: Resources For Department Chairs

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Women & New Faculty Development

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.394.1 - 11.394.8



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Eve Riskin University of Washington

visit author page

Eve Riskin received her BS degree in Electrical Engineering from
M.I.T. and her graduate degrees in EE from Stanford. Since 1990, she
has been in the EE Department at the University of Washington where
she is now Associate Dean of the College of Engineering, Professor of
Electrical Engineering and Director of the ADVANCE Center for
Institutional Change. With ADVANCE, she works on mentoring and
leadership development programs for women faculty in SEM. Her
research interests include image compression and image processing.
She was awarded a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award
and a Sloan Research Fellowship.

visit author page


Kate Quinn University of Washington

visit author page

Kate Quinn is a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Research Assistant for UW ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change. Her research interests include higher education policy, climate, and culture as they structure work/life balance for faculty and students, as well as the socialization and leadership development of graduate students and faculty.

visit author page


Joyce Yen University of Washington

visit author page

Joyce W. Yen received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She received her B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests include decision-making and resource allocation under uncertainty (stochastic programming), faculty and graduate student professional development, and women in science and engineering issues. She was awarded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s 2004 Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Dr. Yen was previously an assistant professor in Industrial Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle and is currently the Program/Research Manager for the University of Washington’s NSF-funded ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


Family-friendly policies for faculty are no longer the exception, but rather are becoming the norm on many campuses. Yet, the existence of such policies is not enough to bring about a cultural change. In addition to changes in policies, institutional transformation requires a significant amount of change in attitudes and practices throughout the university community. A top-down policy change can rarely transform an institution. Rather, the success of institutional change hinges largely on the extent to which (attitudinal and practical) change occurs at the academic department level.1, 2 Department chairs are the critical point of influence at the department level.

Yet academic department chairs are not often prepared to be change agents or administrative managers.2-4 Faculty who have risen to the department chair position are usually recognized leaders in their scholarly fields and have been trained to be scholars, not managers. Moreover, academic department chairs are generally not equipped to navigate policy changes nor the attitudes and prejudices that impair effective policy implementation. Nevertheless, they are precisely the ones who can affect such changes since, as noted by Etzkowitz, Kemelgor and Uzzi, “Policy change cannot affect inherent attitudes and prejudices. Change of that nature appears to emanate from those in power within the department. They become the role model for the role models.”5

To help department chairs gain the skills and information needed to address department culture, which would then support the effective implementation of policies such as family-friendly policies, the University of Washington’s National Science Foundation-funded ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change (CIC) received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to pilot an annual two-day national leadership workshop for department chairs, deans, and emerging leaders. A particular emphasis of the workshop was work-life issues for faculty. The workshop was designed to address the disconnect that exists in American institutions of higher education between the adoption of flexible career options as a means for recruiting and retaining the “best and brightest” faculty, and the existing climate and culture of the academy that discourages utilization of these policies. But before department chairs can begin to address the aspects of department culture that influence family-friendly policy implementation, they need the background information to understand their own attitudes and they need information on policies and examples of effective implementation.

The purpose of this paper is to share information about the policy search process and to discuss the benefits of having family-friendly policy information easily accessible for department chairs and faculty. In collecting information about the family-friendly policies at the various institutions, it became increasingly clear that the information is often difficult to find and even more difficult to implement. Based on our experience, it is no wonder that faculty and department chairs need help demystifying such policies.

This paper begins with an examination of the current environment for care-giving faculty and the role that department chairs play in embracing flexible faculty careers. Next an overview of the

Riskin, E., & Quinn, K., & Yen, J. (2006, June), Demystifying Family Friendly Policies For Faculty: Resources For Department Chairs Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--631

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015