A place like the Boston College Center for Work and Family would usually expect its research to be cited in academic and professional journals, blogs, or print, broadcast and online media.
But probably not a daily newspaper comic strip.
The CWF was recently mentioned in Terri Libenson’s “The Pajama Diaries,” a strip that examines the challenges, frustrations, absurdities and – yes – joys of contemporary work and family life through the character of Jill Kaplan, a web designer who is married with two teenage daughters. “The Pajama Diaries” runs in The Boston Globe, among other newspapers.
In the Dec. 29, 2016, installment, Jill is browsing a magazine when she comes across a reference to a study that found working fathers valued “flex time” higher than “career advancement.” At the bottom of the panel is a citation for the CWF, which has published a number of studies on fathers and their views on work-family issues.
The strip goes on to muse that since both men and women value a family-friendly workplace, “perhaps it’s time to sync our interests,” while depicting a male employee whose boss tells him that family leave “falls under our ‘women’s initiatives.’”
Libenson hadn’t been familiar with the CWF until fairly recently, she explained in an e-mail. “I happened to find the study online when I was researching articles about family leave and flex time, a subject I like to bring up occasionally in the strip since it portrays two full-time working parents.
“I’m glad I found it – this happens to be one of my favorite strips from 2016.”
For the CWF, getting a mention in such an unlikely context was a pleasant surprise.
“In addition to publishing research, sometimes in prestigious journals, our center’s goal has always been to educate and influence employers and the public at-large about work-family issues,” said center executive director Brad Harrington. “We’ve been fortunate to receive a lot of positive press over the years from many major media outlets.
“But when your work starts appearing in comic strips, you know your message is having an impact.”
–Sean Smith / University Communications