Author Biography

Lisa Vandenbossche is a Lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. Her scholarship focuses on writing by and about sailors as a nexus between print culture and reform movements in the long eighteenth-century Anglophone World. Most recently her work on reform discourse, travel writing, and women’s bodily autonomy has appeared in Women’s Studies, The Mark Twain Annual, and an edited collection, Cultural Economies of the Atlantic World.


This piece focuses on insurance and parental leave. While it feels like we know in the abstract that insurance and leave policies are important concerns for faculty members, and employees across all industries, conversations about them by and large taken place in informal settings – through mentorship or personal conversations between friends. In reconstructing these informal information networks, this article seeks to make visible ways that leave policies impact career decisions by women academics. We need to start seeing employee benefits as a reflection of institutional values, to ask about them when considering employment, and to have these conversations with graduate students – both male and female. Focusing solely on tenure as the epitome of academic career stability, makes it easier to overlook (and forgive) gendered precarity within these hierarchies, allowing institutions to resist implementing systemic policies that are vital to faculty equity.


leave policies, insurance, pregnancy, parental leave, tenure, graduate students, faculty policies, women in academia