The Tenure Track and Pregnancy

Dear Emily,

Name 2 things that do NOT go together.  (one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…).

When I was pregnant with you I was excited, obviously, but worried about my job at the same time.  There is a TON of research out there documenting women getting pregnant on the tenure track and then not getting tenure.  No one is ever going to come out and tell a woman that having a baby could damage her career in this way, but the research does speak for itself.  so now, pregnant with twins, I figured that either I had done the work or not, the die was cast.

But you came along and I stayed on track.  Don’t even ask me how!  I do have a clear recollection of taking an online federal exam on the use of human subjects to maintain my eligibility as the co-chair of the IRB.  I distinctly remember sitting on the sofa with you in my arms, reading you the Federal laws on the research.   You were quiet much of the time and I passed all the exams, so it was a win-win.  But I lost a lot of my drive.  The energy that I used to put towards research and teaching and writing lectures went into you.  Well, let’s be fair, you leeched it out of me!   But I never said no, because honestly, I wanted it as much as you did, so it never felt like I was giving anything up.  (no, I gave up a ton, and you still owe me a lot of stitching/sewing/etc time, but really, it is what it is…  I took the 24 hours in the day and divided it as I had to divide it…).

When I was pregnant with you (before I got pregnant?) I wrote a book proposal.  I had a few VERY small articles here and there.  A few months ago, my book came out.  I received my advanced copy on Friday, January 13th.  Tuesday January 17th, I applied for tenure.

Today I got this email:

Dear Professor S—-,

 It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees voted to award you tenure this morning.


Emily, I can’t even tell you what this means.  I am still shaking.   This is NOT an easy process by any stretch of the imagination.  But I did it and it is over.  What does this mean?  This means I have a job for the rest of my life (unless I screw up big or leave).  This means that your college is covered (at my school or a collection of other schools across the country).  It is surreal to me.  This evening, while you and I were rocking in your room before you went to bed, it hit me that college for 3 kids is now covered.   That is beyond huge.  Don’t worry, we are still putting money away in you “college fund”, but what a security blanket!

Little girl, right now you are sound asleep, snuggled with your favorite may-may (Blanket).  You know that something big happened, and I tried explaining it to you but I am not sure you truly got it.  So for now you have to trust me that it is huge.   And all that hard work was for this.  For your college, for your baby brother’s college, for your baby sister’s college.  It was all worth it.  You are all worth it!


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