“Female academics pay a heavy baby penalty”

Female academics pay a heavy baby penalty. – Slate Magazine.

The most important finding is that family formation negatively affects women’s, but not men’s, academic careers. For men, having children is a career advantage; for women, it is a career killer…

…Female graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have babies while students or fellows are more than twice as likely as new fathers or than childless women to turn away from an academic research career…

…Before even applying for the first tenure-track job, many women with children have already decided to drop out of the race. They have perceived a tenure-track job as being incompatible with having children.

…We have found that a good proportion of those toiling as adjuncts and part-time lecturers do eventually get tenure track jobs. On the other hand, single, childless women get those first jobs at higher rates than wives, mothers or single men—almost at the same rate as married fathers….

Here’s my personal favorite:

What makes academia so difficult for mothers? In large part it is because it is a rigid lockstep career track that does not allow for time out and which puts the greatest pressure on its aspirants in the critical early years. Most Ph.D.s are achieved and tenure granted in the critical decade between 30 and 40, the “make or break decade” as we call it. It is also the decade in which women have children, if they have them at all. Low fertility is not a coincidence among tenured women; they believed they must wait to get tenure (average age around 40) before beginning a family.

Three ways this article could have been better titled:

  1. Female Researchers Confuse Discrimination, Lack of Commitment

    A female researcher, confusing female lack of job commitment with “discrimination”, made females everywhere look bad…

  2. Waiting Until You’re Old To Have Children Still Stupid, Researcher Finds

    The idea that women should wait until they’re old to have children took another hit today, as researchers found yet more proof that having children before rather than after your career takes off is the only way mothers can manage both being committed parents while also having a career arc otherwise similar to what men experience. Female researchers blamed “discrimination” rather than acknowledging that differences in biology might be responsible….

  3. Discrimination Against Conservative Values Hurts Women In Academia

    New research by ideologically committed academic fails to differentiate between genuine discrimination and personal preference, thereby leaving women unable to know the real reason why academics apparently don’t value Women’s Studies teachers as highly as physics or math teachers…

    …The lack of ideological diversity in American schools, however, does leave the women who do enter the field both more likely to be the sort of person who thinks “Queer Gardening” is a legitimate academic subject, and more inclined to attribute personal failure to external sources, thus leaving the most probable reasons for anti-female discrimination a taboo subject….

Also in the news: committed workers valued more than multitasking ones regardless of gender.

In the professional pecking order, baby-raising knocks you down a few notches. Women have known this forever. Thank you, millennia of patriarchy. Hello, glass ceiling.

But guys who take on primary caregiving responsibilities feel the pain, too, though not as much as women who choose to prioritize work over child-rearing.

An about-to-be-published study led by Professor Jennifer Berdahl of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management found that middle-class dudes who assume traditionally female child-care roles get harassed and talked down to more at work than those who stuck to typical family gender norms.

It’s totally lame that that adults act like such sexist bullies against guys open-minded enough to step up their game at home. And yet, even in this scenario, working moms have it worse off.

What’s “totally lame” (!) is that people think they ought to be able to bring their home life into the office and yet be treated with the same seriousness as the people who are capable of keeping their mind on their job. If you’re there to do a job, then do your job; if you aren’t volunteering irrelevant personal information at work, nobody can harass you about it.


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  1. Pingback: Reflections on Mama, PhD | 3rdculturechildren

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