In a recent Christianity Today article, Emily Dolan Gierer examines the parental leave policies of several evangelical seminaries and what these policies inadvertently say about the value of women and families to these institutions.

Gierer indicates that most of the institutions she studied do not have formal family leave policies beyond the federal minimum dictated by the Family Medical Leave Act (12 weeks of unpaid leave for organizations with 50 or more employees). Instead, many of the people she interviewed said that they have informal policies driven by their “family-friendly cultures,” providing a range of informal benefits such as flexible schedules and work-from-home opportunities.

But Gierer argues that institutions that espouse family-friendly cultures may not be truly family-friendly if they are not offering any family leave beyond the federal minimum. She presents the argument over whether a family-friendly culture is more important than formal policies, offering viewpoints from both sides. While she acknowledges the importance of culture, she cites several studies that indicate that family-leave policies are the most important way schools can support families.

She makes a strong statement in support of her argument, stating that seminaries should implement family-leave policies in acknowledgement of the Christian emphasis on the family unit and the value of women in leadership roles.

Read Gierer’s full article, “It doesn’t pay to go on maternity leave at most evangelical seminaries,” at Christianity Today.

And after you’ve read her full article, let us know what you think. Do you agree with her premise? What kinds of family-friendly policies, informal and formal, does your school have?