This commentary reflects on research jointly conducted by the Development Geographies Research Group (DevGRG) and the Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group (GFGRG) of the RGS‐IBG, which aimed to understand the challenges faced by academics with care responsibilities. We set out the effects of research funding policies and practices on researchers' ability to combine careers as academic geographers with care responsibilities, highlighting the specific effects in a field‐based subject such as Geography. We gathered data about a range of research funders' policies and how these are implemented (in various ways) in UK Geography departments. We also surveyed all UK university Geography departments to understand experiences of parental and adoption leave, including support from employers, impacts on career progression, and recommendations for support. Our data show that there is a need for a more consistent and comprehensive approach to recognising the costs of academics' caring responsibilities, to support their career progression and to mitigate the impacts disproportionately experienced by women. Funders and higher education institutes (HEIs) need to work collaboratively to develop policies and practices to address the individualised way in which (predominantly female) academics currently experience navigating the provision of funding for parental leave, and for covering costs of care during fieldwork. Our research highlights the need for consistent and progressive policies in relation to care and parental leave across all funding bodies – that can subsequently be embedded into institutional frameworks – in order to provide equity and consistency for staff across the UK higher education (HE) sector. We also emphasise the need for these policies to be more visible and transparent, making the task of navigating them more manageable for staff at an often uncertain time in their working lives.