ACC Survey Explores Regional and Gender Differences in Parental Leave Policies

There are significant regional and gender differences in policies, leave duration and satisfaction levels of paid parental leave policies among cardiologists worldwide, according to results of an ACC survey published June 23 in Current Problems in Cardiology.

Shiavax J. Rao, MD, et al., reviewed 5,931 survey responses (77.3% men and 22.7% women) collected by the ACC between Sept. 13 and Oct. 22, 2019, inquiring cardiologists from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, the European Union, the Middle East, Oceania, and North, Central, and South America about the duration and satisfaction around parental leave policies.

Although most cardiologists reported having more than 10 weeks of paid parental leave, there were significant regional and gender differences. About 20% of women in North America reported over 10 weeks of allocated maternity leave, compared to women in European Union (75.7%), Africa (53.8%), South America (56.0%), Asia (62.0%) and Eastern Europe (68.5%). Additionally, satisfaction with maternity leave policy among women cardiologists was highest in Asia (73.7%) and lowest in North America (39.6%).

Lack of paid paternity leave was common worldwide. However, among men cardiologists who did report paternity leave, those from Africa (50.0%), Middle East (49.6%), European Union (48.3%) and Asia (45.5%) were more likely to report higher satisfaction with paternity leave policy as compared to South America (35.7%), North America (33.4%) and Oceania (31.9%).

Additionally, 58.6% of cardiologists in the U.S. across genders did not know if there was an adjustment of productivity expectations during paid maternity leave at their organization. In addition, 19.2% of women reported that targets were not adjusted for time worked and 26.9% said that targets were adjusted.

Most (60.5%) men cardiologists were unaware of productivity expectation adjustments during paternity leave and 18.6% said they did not receive an adjustment, whereas 16.3% said that they did. Overall, 62.2% of both men and women cardiologists did not know if adjustments were available for paternity leave.

“These data highlight the global differences in policy and behavior around a critical issue that impacts the professional lives of the vast majority of cardiologists, including the strikingly less substantial leaves available in North America as compared to other regions,” the authors write. “Our study highlights the need for better contractual understanding, advocacy, and education around paid time off among practicing cardiologists worldwide and the urgent need for addressing this basic parental right.”

“We need to educate our workforce to be more aware of their institutional policies so they are not penalized for taking parental leave,” adds Garima Sharma, MBBS, FACC, senior author of the paper, a member of ACC’s Women in Cardiology Section Leadership Council and governor of ACC’s Maryland Chapter. “These data make us pause and reflect and then guide us to increase our advocacy around parental leave for both genders. Interestingly, most men across the globe took anywhere between 0 to <4 weeks of parental leave. We need to normalize parental leave for both genders in the U.S.”

Keywords: Asia, Africa, Caribbean Region, Workforce, Middle East, South America, Europe, Eastern, Sex Factors, Leadership, European Union, Organizational Policy, Organizational Policy, Parental Leave, Pregnancy, ACC International

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