GSWS/APC Care Work Advocacy Continues

October 6, 2020

The below message was sent to the Provost's Office on Tuesday, September 29th.


Dear Provost Pritchett, Vice President Heuer, and Vice Provost Perna,

We are writing to follow up on our previous message of August 11th regarding the ongoing care work responsibilities that have increased and intensified under the conditions of the global pandemic.

First, we want to thank you for developing the Penn COVID-19 Child Care Grant. We know that this grant will provide much-needed support to faculty, staff, and post-doctoral employees at Penn and we look forward to receiving information on the number of applicants to the grant program and the amount of money disbursed.

Following this important action, we urge you to consider several of the other recommendations in our initial message. We are particularly concerned about the long-term negative effects of this period on the tenure and promotion of women faculty, given recent research findings that indicate that faculty with increased care burdens will have lower publication and research outputs during this time. We contend, therefore, that it is not enough to merely extend the tenure clock for one year, but urge you to put university-wide policies in place to help to mitigate the negative effects of this period on faculty with caregiving obligations, as well as those who experience chronic health complications as a result of COVID-19.

Second, we ask that you seriously consider our recommendations to support and expand the child care options available to Penn faculty and staff. While University efforts to increase childcare capacity in West Philadelphia (at the medical center and the Penn Children's Center) are appreciated, they still fall far short of demand, and the current crisis has upended even this limited access. For example, the PCC -- which even in pre-COVID times had a years-long waiting list -- is currently only running at 50% capacity. Other local centers have had to raise their tuition while also reducing availability, so as to comply with COVID health guidance, leaving the Penn community with even fewer, yet more expensive, options. We would like assurance that Penn will continue to work to increase access to affordable child care options for its employees, as well as take concrete steps to ensure the long-term health of current child care facilities.

Finally, we urge you to ensure that messages like the one sent to all SAS staff on August 31st refrain from using language that is targeted at faculty with caregiving obligations. Stating that separation or furlough programs might be “beneficial to staff who may have concerns about balancing work and home life schedules in these uncertain times” is not only problematic, but potentially discriminatory, in that it puts pressure - whether intentionally or unintentionally - on a particular group of employees to take what is being labeled a “voluntary” program.

We are happy to schedule a meeting to discuss any of these matters further, and/or provide you with additional action items that might be taken around the recommendations through email.

Thank you for your attention to these important issues; we know that you have many critical matters to attend to.


GSWS/APC Board Members:

Kathleen Brown, David Boies Professor of History
Jessa Lingel, associate professor, Annenberg School for Communication
David L. Eng, Richard L. Fisher Professor of English, SAS
Nancy Bentley, Donald T. Regan Professor of English, SAS
Pilar Gonalons-Pons, Assistant Professor, Sociology
Dawn Teele, Associate Professor of Political Science, SAS                   

PFWF Council Members: 

Chenoa Flippen, Associate Professor of Sociology, SAS, Chair, PFWF
Carmen Guerra, Associate Professor of Medicine, PSOM, Chair-elect, PFWF
Fusun Ozer, Associate Professor, PDM, Member
Allison K. Hoffman, Professor of Law, Member
Amy Hillier, Associate Professor, SP2, Member
Julie Nelson Davis, Professor, SAS, Member
Amanda Shanor, Assistant Professor, Wharton, Member