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How to Hack it as a Working Parent: or, Should Your Face be Bathed in the Blue Glow of a Phone at 2 AM?

  • Margaret Heller, Loyola University Chicago,
  • Christina Salazar, California State University Channel Islands,
  • May Yan, Ryerson University,

Modern technology has made it easier than ever for parents employed in
technical environments to keep up with work at all hours and in all
locations. This makes it possible to work a flexible schedule, but also
may lead to problems with work/life balance and furthering unreasonable
expectations about working hours. Add to that shifting gender roles and
limited paid parental leave in the United States and you have potential
for burnout and a certainty for anxiety. It raises the additioal
question of whether the “always connected” mindset puts up a barrier to
some populations who otherwise might be better represented in open
source and library technology communities.

This presentation will address tools that are useful for working parents
in technical library positions, and share some lessons learned about
using these tools while maintaining a reasonable work/life balance. We
will consider a question that Karen Coyle raised back in 1996: “What if
the thousands of hours of graveyard shift amateur hacking wasn't really
the best way to get the job done? That would be unthinkable.”

For those who are able to take an extended parental leave, we will
present strategies for minimizing the impact to your career and your
employer. For those (particularly in the United States) who are only
able to take a short leave will require different strategies. Despite
different levels of preparation, all are useful exercises in succession
planning and making a stronger workplace and future ability to work a
flexible schedule through reviewing workloads, cross-training personnel,
hiring contract replacements, and creative divisions of labor. Such
preparation makes work better for everyone, kids or no kids or
caretakers of any kind.

Presentation Slides