Case for Daycare at the Main Campus of Columbia University:

Commission on the Status of Women, February 16, 2005


Columbia University has recently undertaken a major initiative to increase diversity and enable all members of our community - regardless of gender or racial identity - to participate fully in the intellectual life of the university.  This diversity initiative coincides with a major developmental project in the sciences at Columbia.  Both of these goals require adequate child care as a crucial aspect of their legitimacy and success.   Childcare plays a significant role in attracting and retaining faculty and researchers.  Provision of childcare enhances productivity and contributes to the development of strong intellectual communities. It also signals the university’s commitment to gender diversity and to an academic environment compatible with families.



·   Recruitment: Research and experience have shown that childcare plays a key role in decision making about employment.  Childcare concerns are particularly salient in attracting out-of-towners to Columbia.  Inadequate childcare, along with schooling, place Columbia at a competitive disadvantage with universities that offer high quality, accessible childcare.   Child care, along with other work-family issues, also affects the ability to attract high quality candidates to academic careers in the sciences. 


·   Retention:  Safe and accessible childcare is a core concern of existing faculty and researchers, and plays a role when they are considering offers from institutions that meet these critical needs.  The development of strong ties to the community through the provision of childcare can also solidify long term commitments to the university.


·   Productivity: Research shows that productivity improves over time when employers provide safe, accessible, and reliable childcare.  Women and men must be able to work and know their children are well taken care of.  Childcare considerations are particularly acute for laboratory scientists, who cannot bring the most important part of their work home, nor can they safely let their baby or toddler crawl around their feet at work.   Reliable childcare, located close to the lab, is essential for the productivity of a scientist caring for a child younger than kindergarten age. 


·   Legitimacy: Columbia’s visible steps toward addressing the childcare needs of its community provide a concrete indication of its commitment to a diverse and inclusive intellectual community.  Incorporating provision for excellent childcare into the Science Initiative and other growth areas would send a very strong message to prospective and current faculty and students that Columbia is serious about creating an environment in which women will thrive.  Because Natural Sciences has the lowest representation of female faculty and graduate students of any of the divisions of Arts & Sciences at Columbia, locating childcare facilities within the science complex has particular symbolic meaning.