Statistics: Men Almost As Unsatisfied With a Science Career’s Effect on Their Parental Duties as Women
she blinded me with science
The Venture family is no stranger to bad work life balance, why, Rusty arguably got a lot of his bad habits as a father from his own aloof-bordering-on-the-criminally-negligent single dad. But super science aside, the difficulty of building a stable scientific career while also building a stable family is one that gets mentioned a lot, generally in discussions of why there isn’t a more equal presence of women in science and academia. And while there’s conflicting evidence as to whether this is the biggest root of the problem, there’s no doubt that it’s a contributing factor.
According to a new survey by the Association for Women in Science, men and women are actually both significantly fed up with the career structure of the fields of science, specifically how it hinders raising a family.
According to the survey, more than half of respondents said that they are forced to prioritize work over family at least 2-3 times a week. And about a third of all those surveyed, split very nearly evenly between men and women, said that the academic institution in which they worked did not give enough support to their spouse who also works in the sciences, with spousal hiring policies either not being available or having been cut from the budget.
However, the survey also illustrated inequalities: omen researchers are less likely than men to have others to delegate tasks to, more likely to feel they can’t say no to a project that isn’t otherwise a high priority to them for fear of it having a detrimental effect on their career, and more likely to say that seeking a good work/life balance would have a negative effect on their career. 39% of the women surveyed said they delayed having children because of their career, compared to 27% of men. Of those who said they would be leaving their current position soon, twice as many women as men said it was because their spouse had been offered work elsewhere, not them (6% vs. 12%).
The takeaway is pretty clear: although men and women find the restrictions of a scientific career affects their ability to have a solid family life, we still live in a society that expects women to take the initiative on childrearing, and so they’re bearing the brunt of the effects on their careers. On the other hand, we can also take away the idea that more freedom for family planning in the scientific careers will benefit everybody in the scientific careers, not just women.