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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Nearly half of US female scientists leave full-time science after first child |

Holly Else, Reporter at Nature Research says, Study reveals proportion of people leaving full-time careers in science after the birth of their first child.

Having a child can lead to scientists switching or quitting their careers.
Photo: Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty

More than 40% of women with full-time jobs in science leave the sector or go part time after having their first child, according to a study of how parenthood affects career trajectories in the United States. By contrast, only 23% of new fathers leave or cut their working hours.

The analysis (see ‘Parents in science’), led by Erin Cech, a sociologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, might help to explain the persistent under-representation of women in jobs that involve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The study also highlights the impact of fatherhood on a career in science, she says...

A ‘structural’ problem Virginia Valian, a psychologist at the City University of New York, says: “The results showing that fathers also leave STEM reinforces the hypothesis that the problem is a structural one, in which dedicated professionals are not expected to have a personal life, and, indeed, are punished for so doing.”

Ami Radunskaya, a mathematician at Pomona College in Claremont, California, who mentors young female mathematicians, says women can become exhausted from constantly having to prove themselves in a professional environment that is, “at best, challenging to everyone and, at worst, openly sexist”.

Additional resources
Cech, E. A. & Blair-Loy, M. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA (2019).


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