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About Us

Protecting pregnant and parenting students isn’t just the right thing to do–it is a legal imperative.

Title IX’s implications for athletics and sexual assault are now widely known, but its maternity leave mandates and prohibition of pregnancy discrimination have largely been overlooked by institutions of higher education. As universities move towards full compliance and resolve gaps in their policies, we help students, educators, and administrators understand their rights and obligations under the law.

What’s at stake?  Student parents constitute more than one in five undergraduates, and roughly one in three graduate students. Hundreds of thousands of college students become pregnant each year. Yet few institutions have policies designed to meet their unique needs.  Without critical supports, only 33% of undergraduate parents complete their degree or certificate within six years. 

Many, preceiving the lack of support, choose not to pursue higher education at all. Pregnant and parenting students who lack parental leave, pregnancy and breastfeeding accommodations, and other support face significant and sometimes insurmountable obstacles to earning their degrees. The Pregnant Scholar has helped pregnant and newly parenting students who face being kicked out of university housing; removed from university-provided health insurance coverage; losing fellowships and tuition already paid; as well as students being forced to graduate late, retake classes, or even withdraw from school entirely. Without our intervention, these students would face profound long-term implications for  parents as well as their children and communities.

Equity for student parents is critical to resolving longstanding inequities and injustices in who can attend, and succeed, in higher education in the United States. It advances gender justice, as women and childbearing people are more likely to face motherhood bias and pregnancy-linked barriers to success, particularly in STEM fields.  And it advances racial justice; student parents are disproportionately people of color, likely to be overburdened by intersecting racial and gender bias. Critically, 40% of Black women, 36% of American Indian women, and 26% of Latinas enrolled in undergraduate college have children. Institutional barriers make student parents less likely to complete their education or complete it on time, even though student parents have higher GPAs, on average, than their childless peers. Empowering student parents and administrators who can support them is critical to ensuring equitable access to education and the opportunities and security it provides.


Undergraduate Parents

22% of all undergraduate students (4.8 million) are raising children.


Graduate Student Parents

33% of all graduate students are raising children.

Our Approach

The Pregnant Scholar is the nation’s legal resource center on the rights of pregnant and parenting postsecondary students. Through research and advocacy, we advance legal protections in support of pregnant and parenting students to grow and strengthen their rights. The Pregnant Scholar’s team provides technical assistance to college/university administrators, training on Title IX and other legal protections, and assistance implementing best practice policies. We also operate a free legal helpline for pregnant and parenting students nationwide who want to learn more about their rights or who need expert support in fighting harassment or securing accommodations and leave.

Our work is firmly rooted in a commitment to gender, race, disability, and reproductive justice as well as a deep respect to the lived experiences of the most impacted. All of our student services and most of our insitutional services are provided free of charge.

Our Vision

We envision a future where someone’s pregnancy or family caregiver status does not pose a barrier to degree completion and the economic mobility that comes with it. We strive to forge a United States where higher education systems provide the support necessary for pregnant students, student parents, and other student caregivers of all backgrounds to achieve their academic goals while helping their families thrive.

The Pregnant Scholar is an initiative of UC College of the Law, San Francisco’s Center for WorkLife Law. We serve as a key driver of the Center’s mission to advance racial, gender, and reproductive justice by building legal rights for pregnant people and family caregivers so they can achieve and maintain economic security through fair employment and educational opportunities. Lean more about the Center for WorkLife Law here.

Our History

In early 2015, Professors Joan C. Williams (University of California College of the Law, San Francisco) and the late Mary Ann Mason (University of California, Berkeley), launched this project to boost the support and protections for pregnant and parenting students and postdocs, with support from the National Science Foundation. By providing resources to educate and empower university communities, the Pregnant Scholar seeks to ensure the effective implementation of Title IX’s and help mend the critical leak in the STEM pipeline. In recent years, under the leadership of Williams and Jessica Lee, the Pregnant Scholar’s Director, our work has grown to support the needs of students across higher education. The Initiative is now housed at the UC College of the Law, San Francisco’s Center for WorkLife Law and serves as a hub of legal and technical assistance for all fields and all levels of postsecondary education–from vocational school to graduate school.

Our Leadership

Jessica Lee, Director of the Pregnant Scholar Initiative and Senior Staff Attorney at the UC College of the Law San Francisco’s Center for WorkLife Law, leads our work. Jessica’s research and advocacy advances gender and racial equity in the workplace and in education, and she is a nationally-recognized expert on the laws at the intersection of employment, education, and maternal and infant health. Jessica is the daughter of a student parent, and has experienced first-hand the difference that family-responsive insitutions can make.

About this site
This site provides resources for students, postdocs, faculty, administrators, and others in institutions of higher education, including colleges, community colleges, universities, and similar programs. Those interested in learning more about Title IX pregnancy protection in grade school should review the Department of Education’s Guidance on the topic or contact us for assistance identifying a local partner. Although the resources on this site have been written and reviewed by legal experts, the information on this website does not constitute legal advice. See our disclaimers and privacy policy for more information. 

New Title IX Regulations are HERE! To learn more and be the first to receive our updated materials, visit our Title IX Updates page.