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The committee interprets these data as indicating that stop-the-tenure-clock policies allowed women who are currently associate professors sufficient flexibility to both assemble a strong tenure case and tend to family responsibilities. In contrast, the cohort who are currently full professors did not benefit from the recently enacted stop-the-tenure-clock policies, and thus these women would have had to meet the same timetable as men, despite their greater family caretaking responsibilities. If they had not met the same deadlines they would not have been granted tenure and promotion and would not now be found among the ranks of full professors.

The growth in time in rank for assistant professors may be attributable in part to increasing expectations about scholarly productivity, reinforcing the need for women to avail themselves of family leave if they are to successfully earn tenure. Stop-the-tenure-clock policies, which are taken advantage of by both male and female faculty, further increase the average length of time faculty spend as assistant professors and thereby extend the period of uncertainty for these faculty.

These findings suggest that there have been major changes over time in women’s opportunities to succeed in academic careers. If some of these changes can be attributed to changes in university policies such as the stop-the-tenure-clock policy for family care, this is good news. It suggests that universities can change long-established policies that might have prevented one group of scientists and engineers from advancing to permanent careers within the institution. It also opens the door to considering other established university policies that may hinder our country’s ability to profit from creativity of all trained scientists, both male and female. For example, one policy that might be opened for reexamination is the usual requirement that all assistant professor appointments be full time. Part-time appointments would allow both women and men the opportunity to better balance family and career over time.

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