Case for Daycare at the Main Campus of Columbia
Commission on the Status of Women, February 16, 2005
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
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
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.