In many European Countries (fn1), scholars applying for research grants with the National Research Councils can indicate that they had a child, and get additional ‘time recognition’. Many grants, especially the most prestigious and best-funded grants, work with a time-limit, e.g. you can only apply until Y years after getting your PhD degree, or between X and Y years after getting your PhD degree. If you had a baby, you can add a certain number of months to Y – which makes the timeframe more flexible for the applicant.
if you want to be shocked by something in the [ERC] report, you can have a look at their policy towards the deduction of parental leave from the qualifying period for a starting grant: 18 months per children for women, the actual amount of parental leave taken for men. Say what? What is the presupposition here that justifies such a differential treatment? What was wrong with “the actual amount of leave taken” (perhaps times a multiplier to be more family friendly) for both gender? I felt insulted both as a father of two children born in quite rapid succession at a critical period of my career and on behalf of my wife, who apparently is considered by the ERC to be not being devoted to her work for 18 months, even if she worked full-time the day her mandatory maternity leave ended.
I assume that the reasoning of those who invented this ERC rule is that we know from social science research that in Europe young mothers spend much more time on the care of babies than fathers; and in order not to harm their prospects of an academic career, the ERC gives mothers time recognition for that carework. Yet, as Z rightly points out, this assumes that parenthood cannot affect fathers to the same degree, and thereby also reinforces the sexist norm that we expect fathers not to be involved, which is a norm that harms both fathers and mothers.
Another relevant question is whether the unequal gendered division of child care is still as unequal among academics and their partners as it is among some other parts of the population. I don’t know statistics that focus specifically on this group. But I have many academic friends (and of course also can get some glimpses of the gendered division of care work of my colleagues), and it seems to me that scholars and their partners have some of the most egalitarian gender division of child care of all social strata. In that case, that would be another reason to endorse Z’s proposal of granting each parent for each child born a time extension equal to the actual amount of leave taken (possibly multiplied with a factor).
(1) possibly all, I do not know.