Scientists want more children.

Department of Sociology, Rice University, Houston, Texas, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 08/2011; 6(8):e22590. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022590
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Scholars partly attribute the low number of women in academic science to the impact of the science career on family life. Yet, the picture of how men and women in science--at different points in the career trajectory--compare in their perceptions of this impact is incomplete. In particular, we know little about the perceptions and experiences of junior and senior scientists at top universities, institutions that have a disproportionate influence on science, science policy, and the next generation of scientists. Here we show that having fewer children than wished as a result of the science career affects the life satisfaction of science faculty and indirectly affects career satisfaction, and that young scientists (graduate students and postdoctoral fellows) who have had fewer children than wished are more likely to plan to exit science entirely. We also show that the impact of science on family life is not just a woman's problem; the effect on life satisfaction of having fewer children than desired is more pronounced for male than female faculty, with life satisfaction strongly related to career satisfaction. And, in contrast to other research, gender differences among graduate students and postdoctoral fellows disappear. Family factors impede talented young scientists of both sexes from persisting to research positions in academic science. In an era when the global competitiveness of US science is at risk, it is concerning that a significant proportion of men and women trained in the select few spots available at top US research universities are considering leaving science and that such desires to leave are related to the impact of the science career on family life. Results from our study may inform university family leave policies for science departments as well as mentoring programs in the sciences.


Available from: Anne E Lincoln, Jun 13, 2015
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Are women less interested in becoming professors than men? We applied the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to investigate the intention to pursue an academic career. Postdocs who recently finished their PhD at a German university participated in an online survey (N = 380, mean age: 33; 45% women). Women reported lower academic career intentions (d = 0.40); TPB variables (attitude, subjective norm, self-efficacy) explained 87% of this gender difference. At an 8 month follow-up, we found no gender difference in the intention to continue in an academic career among the postdocs who were still working in academia (n = 129). Addressing TPB constructs early in women's academic careers could encourage them to remain in academia and strive for a professorship.
    Journal of Applied Social Psychology 03/2015; 45:158-172. DOI:10.1111/jasp.12285 · 0.83 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The proportion of women occupying academic positions in biological sciences has increased in the past few decades, but women are still under-represented in senior academic ranks compared to their male colleagues. Primatology has been often singled out as a model of "equal-opportunity" discipline because of the common perception that women are more represented in Primatology than in similar fields. But is this indeed true? Here we show that, although in the past 15 years the proportion of female primatologists increased from the 38% of the early 1990s to the 57% of 2008, Primatology is far from being an "equal-opportunity" discipline, and suffers the phenomenon of "glass ceiling" as all the other scientific disciplines examined so far. In fact, even if Primatology does attract more female students than males, at the full professor level male members significantly outnumber females. Moreover, regardless of position, IPS male members publish significantly more than their female colleagues. Furthermore, when analyzing gender difference in scientific productivity in relation to the name order in the publications, it emerged that the scientific achievements of female primatologists (in terms of number and type of publications) do not always match their professional achievements (in terms of academic position). However, the gender difference in the IPS members' number of publications does not correspond to a similar difference in their scientific impact (as measured by their H index), which may indicate that female primatologists' fewer articles are of higher impact than those of their male colleagues.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(1):e30458. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0030458 · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Despite advances within a wide range of professional roles, women remain a minority in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees and occupations. The gender gap in mathematics and science performance has converged, and so it is important to consider the motivational reasons that might underlie the differential STEM pursuits of women and men. The goal congruity perspective contends that a fundamental cause of gender gaps in STEM pursuits is the gender difference in communal motivation (i.e., an orientation toward others). STEM fields may be particularly likely to deter communally oriented individuals because these fields are thought to impede goals of directly benefitting others, altruism, or collaboration. In this review, we examine how the communal goal perspective might address the challenges of gender gaps in STEM pursuits from childhood through adulthood. We review the logic and evidence for the goal congruity perspective, and we examine two other deterrents to women in STEM—work-family challenges and stereotyping—from the perspective of this framework. We then examine particular recommendations for policy actions that might broaden participation of women and girls, and communally oriented people generally, in STEM.
    Social Issues and Policy Review 01/2015; 9(1). DOI:10.1111/sipr.12010