The Baby Penalty

Mary Ann Mason has an excellent blog post in Slate about how female academics face “a baby penalty.” Yeah? Who knew?

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. And women who do advance through the faculty ranks do so at a high price. They are far less likely to be married with children. We see more women in visible positions like presidents of Ivy League colleges, but we also see many more women who are married with children working in the growing base of part-time and adjunct faculty, the “second tier,” which is now the fastest growing sector of academia. Unfortunately, more women Ph.Ds. has meant more cheap labor. And this cheap labor threatens to displace the venerable tenure track system.

Mason concludes that women with children need to “lean in” to overcome these barriers to employment.

Honestly, I just gave up on pursuing an academic career. The barriers are too high and, after a while, banging your head against the wall seems rather pointless. Shrug. There are other career paths. There also other life paths, because after all, there’s more to life than a career.

2 thoughts on “The Baby Penalty

  1. I suppose a lot depends on the university leave policy and one’s colleagues. From the time I started in my grad program at Penn (in 2001) until the last year, 5 women were on TT in the department I was in. All three who got tenure had children while on TT, while the two who did not get tenure didn’t have kids (one wasn’t married, either.) But, Penn currently has a pretty good leave policy, so I’m sure that helped.


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