Children threaten tenure

Rachelle Bienstock biensto1 at niehs.nih.gov
Fri Feb 15 04:22:19 EST 2002


It does not surprise me in the least that 50% of women in the sciences with
tenure are childless, or for that matter why many women are deciding against

the academic careeer path.  Academic success demands a great deal
of "face time".  Attendence at meetings and conferences, serving on grant
review panels, in addition to time spent on the home turf writing grants,
running a lab. and
doing research.  Children also demand a great deal of time- when they
are infants and small they require constant care, are frequently sick if
they are in daycare, and are demanding.  When they are young and
little they get very upset if Mommy is frequently gone traveling or away...
All these issues make a very successful academic career at a high-powered
research institution extremely difficult for women with children to
achieve.  Most of
the women who do succeed have a very strong support network-
supportive spouse or partner, mother, sister, or nanny or childcare giver
who shares significantly in the childcare role and who the mother
can constantly count on for support at a moment's notice...

Women are still the "care-takers" in our society...even women who
never marry or are childless are frequently the care-takers of
elderly parents...

Industry has adapted much more to assist women than academia...for one thing
it
pays better so it is much easier for women to afford nannies and care-givers

if needed, and industry is much more likely to provide on-site
childcare, childcare for sick children and the like....Additionally,
a successful scientific career in industry depends much more on
productivity for the company between the hours of 9-5 (and patents
and original ideas generated with a payoff) then on
networking and additional face-time hours...

The medical profession has bended tremendously to accomodate
women...However, I believe in law it is still the same way.
I have frequently heard it remarked that women on the "Mommy
track" seldom become "partner"  in big law firms...

SLForsburg wrote:

> Today the Chronicle of Higher Education had an article about a new
> report, "Do Babies Matter: The Effect of Family Formation on the Life
> Long Careers of Women" , written by Mary Ann Mason, Dean of the UC
> Berkeley grad school.  (If anyone knows how to find the text of the full
> report, please let me know.....)
>
>  The article says:
> >The report found that women who had at least one child before
> completing five years of
> >post-Ph.D. work were 24 percent less likely in the sciences and 20
> percent less likely in
> >the humanities to achieve tenure than men who became fathers during
> that time. Women
> >who waited to become mothers until later in their careers, or did not
> have children at all,
> >were more likely to get tenure.
> >
> >For men, however, it was a different story. Those who became fathers
> during
> >the first five years of their careers were actually more likely to
> achieve tenure than men
> >who did not.
>
> It goes on to say that 50 percent of women in sciences with tenure are
> childless.
>
> I wonder what the equivalent ratio is for women in other professions:
> law, medicine, etc.
>
> -- susan
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> S L Forsburg, PhD
> Associate Professor
> The Salk Institute
> forsburgATsalk.edu
>
> "These are my opinions.  I don't have
> time to speak for anyone else."
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> ---




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