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9.0

Conclusions

The general findings of this project are consistent with related surveys and reviews which have highlighted the importance of a ‘family friendly’ culture, affordable quality childcare, breastfeeding facilities and flexible work arrangements. One of the benefits of this project is that it has highlighted specific strategies for improved services at The University of Auckland. Some of the recommendations also have potential national implications to support enhanced policies and practice for women returning to work after taking parental leave throughout the university sector. The focus groups and questionnaires produced very similar findings. The nature of the questionnaire enabled answers to be quantified. 1. A number of suggestions related to the importance of disseminating information for women about to take leave, on leave and when they return to work. Networking opportunities for women in similar circumstances would provide further support. The psychological impact of returning to work cannot be under-estimated. Many women found it an emotional experience of isolation, confusion and low morale through anxieties that they were either not doing enough for their children or not performing highly enough in the workplace. The combination of information-sharing and networking would be very beneficial in smoothing this period of transition. Recommendations 1. a That ‘transition to returning to work’ sessions be organised at the departmental level for all women who have taken three or more months’ parental leave. 1. b That quarterly lunchtime meetings be held for women who have returned to work to provide information on relevant topics and provide opportunities for networking. 1. c That information disseminated in these meetings be recorded in a newsletter which will be sent to all interested staff currently on parental leave, and to staff who have returned, but are unable to attend the meetings. 2. Given that information and support is not always immediately available in departments, one suggestion from a reference group was that a number of women volunteers with experience of returning to work in the University after childbirth/adoption could be provided with appropriate training and resources to act as ‘Parental Leave/Return to Work Advocates’ (similar to the Mediator’s ‘Resolve Network’) providing advice and support to other women. Once approved, they could attend meetings and receive relevant updates of policy and legislation. Recommendation 2. That consideration be given to appointing voluntary ‘Parental Leave/Return to Work Advocates’ accessible to staff in faculties and service divisions and who could provide advice and support to women returning to work. 3. Frequent mention was made of the need for facilities to breastfeed and express milk. Women with babies in University childcare centres are able to use those facilities if they are conveniently located near to the women’s workplaces. However, this is not always possible and some babies will be looked after by caregivers off campus, especially if they are too young for enrolment in a University

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Women Returning to Work  

a joint project by the University of Auckland and the Association of University Staff analysing women’s experiences returning to work after...

Women Returning to Work  

a joint project by the University of Auckland and the Association of University Staff analysing women’s experiences returning to work after...

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