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Report calls for coordinated family-friendly policies in research sciences

| 12 November 2009

Women in the sciences must often choose between family and academic careers, according to a new report authored by researchers at the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security (Berkeley CHEFS) at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

The report, produced in partnership with the Center for American Progress, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, examines the reasons why women are more likely than men to "leak out" of the academic pipeline in the sciences before obtaining tenure at a research college or university, even as the Obama administration has renewed support for scientific research through the 2009 economic stimulus package.

The findings, based upon extensive surveys that include doctorate recipients, doctoral students, post-doctoral scholars, academic researchers and faculty, and 10 of the major federal granting agencies, show that women in the sciences who are married with children are 35 percent less likely to enter a tenure track position after receiving a Ph.D. than married men with children, and they are 27 percent less likely than their male counterparts to achieve tenure upon entering a tenure-track job.

In contrast, single women without young children are roughly as successful as married men with children in attaining a tenure-track job, and a little more successful than married women with children in achieving tenure.

The report's authors Marc Goulden, Karie Frasch and Mary Ann Mason call for better coordination between research universities and federal agencies in developing more family-responsive policies to prevent inconsistent and inadequate coverage for researchers who need to take time off for family caregiving needs.

A summary of the report's findings, including links to the full report, the executive summary and a video of co-author Mason explaining the need for better family leave policies for women researchers in the sciences, are available through the Center for American Progress.