twitter facebook stumble upon rss

Why Is Academia So Hard on Working Mothers?

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This

Guest blogger Kate Tuttle: Flexible schedule. Summers off. Casual dress. Friendly work environment. Academia sounds like the perfect field for working mothers. Yet as a recent study out of Barnard suggests, women who seek to be both professional academics and mothers often find themselves struggling to succeed in either role.

woman at school campus
The study highlights the typical academic timeline. In most fields, once a newly minted Ph.D goes on the job market, she will be up for tenure after about seven years(if she's in a tenure-track job).Since the average doctorate is earned at age 34, that means that a woman's most critical and challenging work years are also the same years she's likely to be trying to have children.

Having a child is a difficult thing to pull off when you're in graduate school (after coursework, there's research and then a dissertation to write), and the task becomes even more daunting once one is on the tenure track. Teaching demands, requirements to publish, travel and present papers and the expectation of a book or major achievement in one's field ... it can all be hard to juggle with pregnancy, childbirth and the equally intense needs of young children.

Women trying to balance families and careers in other fields may be thinking: Cry me a river. And it's true that achieving a work-life balance in any field takes effort. But for some reason, academia feels even tougher, perhaps because so many "professor mommies" assumed it would be easier. As the Barnard study indicates, women leave the profession -- or jump off the tenure track -- at a rate that far outpaces men. And it's not hard to notice that the most successful women in any university typically are childless, if not single -- while male professors are often patriarchs of large families (the better to lecture to).

As the daughter of one professor and husband of another, I've seen this close up, and it makes me sad. Due to the nature of academic work -- the role it plays in shaping ideas in our culture -- something unique is lost when both sexes are unable to enter on equal footing. It may be that the tenure system is due to expire anyway (which would fundamentally change academia -- for the worse, I'd say), but until that happens, I'd like to see more women get the opportunity to pursue tenure without having to give up on their dreams of motherhood.

Whether that means changing the timeline, providing better childcare or just continuing to chip away at a culture that still somehow feels as conservative as the 1950s (despite its reputation as a world of radicalism), I'm not sure. But I hope the smart women currently earning their Ph.Ds can get on it. My daughter's about to start college, and I want her to learn from as many women as men.


next: Should Mothers and Daughters Be Friends?
71 comments so far | Post a comment now
diete rapide December 27, 2010, 12:16 PM

I was been after the Internet for this info and just wanted to say thanks to you for this post. Also, just off topic, where can i download a version of this theme? – Thanks

sat nav reviews December 27, 2010, 4:46 PM

Searched Google and ended up here - its good so I posted the link on my Facebook account !

knitting for beginners December 28, 2010, 9:54 AM

Google really did a good job helping me find your blog - its good.

free knitting patterns December 28, 2010, 10:28 AM

Searched Yahoo/Bing and ended up here - its good so I posted the link on my Facebook account !

rv parking December 28, 2010, 3:22 PM

Was looking for this - so I just tweeted your site on our account - thanks

Walter Weeks December 29, 2010, 8:27 AM

I really enjoyed your site. It’s always nice when you find something that is not only informative but entertaining. Excellent.

small backyard landscaping pictures January 1, 2011, 6:42 PM

How do you make a site look this awesome. Email me if you get the chance and share your wisdom. I’d be thankful!

shrubs for formal gardens January 1, 2011, 7:04 PM

When are you going to post again? You really entertain me!

free landscape ideas January 1, 2011, 7:24 PM

i just received xbox 360 arcade , obviously no hdd, if i want to, could i purchase a memory for it and expand it so i could set up game and play music also,please response hope you understand, english is not my own lang.

sanibel island vacation rentals January 8, 2011, 12:13 PM

-The Santa Cruz Farmers Market, downtown every Wednesday afternoon is an absolute must. Great produce and awesome restaurant booths. Many, many amazing hand held snacks.

ft myers beach rentals January 8, 2011, 4:47 PM

As for Cazadero, I know theres a lot buried in the woods up there, but Im going to first cover the Russian River proper, just to give people an idea of whats happening lately in Guerneville, Monte Rio, and Duncans Millsa lot has changed these past couple of years. What with everyone freaking out about the low flow of the river, and fighting about the re-direction of the Eel River into the Russian, I may devote all my coverage to those places immediately along its banks.

california beach rentals January 8, 2011, 5:09 PM

Hi Jack,

vacation rentals key west florida January 11, 2011, 5:29 PM

[…] guide covers the town of Sonoma, and Sonoma Valley. For more on the county, check out our Healdsburg guide. But if you prefer Hummers to hybrids, or complex cabernets to syrupy syrahs, visit Napa instead; […]

big island vacation rentals January 11, 2011, 6:26 PM

See you on the trail!

Hostel Bridge January 13, 2011, 4:52 AM

You are a very bright person!

Unlock iPhone 4.0 January 13, 2011, 8:44 AM

Greet post this will really help me.

red tube January 14, 2011, 4:00 AM

Cheers, I really love the way you wrote the story… maybe you could come to my site and make some advices. thank you in advance.

red tube January 14, 2011, 5:53 AM

It’s everything here exactly what I was looking for :) I’m so happy that I step in right here.

No one who cannot rejoice in the discovery of his own mistakes deserves to be called a scholar.

Ukash January 22, 2011, 4:06 PM

Superukash Türkiye %100 Yasal hem ucuz hem guvenli Ukash Kart satışı yapmaktadır. Ucuz ukash, ukash, ukash al, ukash destek.


Back to top >>
advertisement