Purpose: Women lag behind men in several key academic indicators, such as advancement, retention, and securing leadership positions. Although reasons for these disparities are multifactorial, policies that do not support work-life integration contribute to the problem. The objective of this descriptive study was to compare the faculty work-life policies among medical schools in the Big Ten conference. Methods: Each institution's website was accessed in order to assess its work-life policies in the following areas: maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, extension of probationary period, part-time appointments, part-time benefits (specifically health insurance), child care options, and lactation policy. Institutions were sent requests to validate the online data and supply additional information if needed. Results: Each institution received an overall score and subscale scores for family leave policies and part-time issues. Data were verified by the human resources office at 8 of the 10 schools. Work-life policies varied among Big Ten schools, with total scores between 9.25 and 13.5 (possible score: 0-21; higher scores indicate greater flexibility). Subscores were not consistently high or low within schools. Conclusions: Comparing the flexibility of faculty work-life policies in relation to other schools will help raise awareness of these issues and promote more progressive policies among less progressive schools. Ultimately, flexible policies will lead to greater equity and institutional cultures that are conducive to recruiting, retaining, and advancing diverse faculty.
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