diet coke for breakfast

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Posted by Jake :: Daniel W. Drezner :: The conundrum of tenure and toddlers

Drezner has a great piece on the gender disparities in academics achieving tenure. A great deal of the disparity can be attributed to having babies during the during the critical period for job development -- before 5 years after recieving you PhD.

As someone who could concievably be in academia for a very long time -- albeit not a woman -- this data concerns me a bit. The time that you spend with your family during that critical period is clearly a detriment to your job success (I would say that that would apply for men or women). Everyone I work with is going to have to make the decision whether to have children at all or late and fewer of them or to start a family and miss most of your kids childhood's.

The effects of having late babies, those who join the household more than five years after the Ph.D. is earned, are far less dramatic. Overall, women with late babies and women without children demonstrate about the same rate of achieving tenure, a rate higher than women with early babies. Presumably, women who have babies later in their career life have already achieved job security. They are also more likely to have only one child.

Overall, women who attain tenure across the disciplines are unlikely to have children in the household. Twelve to fourteen years out from the Ph.D., 62 percent of tenured women in the humanities and social sciences and 50 percent of those in the sciences do not have children in the household. By contrast, only 39 percent of tenured men in social sciences and humanities and 30 percent of those in the sciences do not have children in the household 12 to 14 years out from the Ph.D.

It is interesting that a disparity clearly exists, but it would appear that it is can be attributed at least partly to the personal decisions made by these women. I think that this is some evidence that the issue is not one of discrimination. Rather, it suggests that working in a system as hierarchical as academia is sometimes mutually exclusive to having a family -- whoever you are.


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