Science professors say their careers prevent them from having more kids


According to a recent study, 45.4 percent of female science professors and 24.5 percent of male science professors at leading research universities say their careers have kept them from having as many children as they would like. The study, entitled "Scientists Want More Children," appears in the current issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

"In short, academic science careers are tough on family life because of the long hours and the pressure of publishing and grant-getting needed to get tenure," study co-author Elaine Howard Ecklund of Rice University said in a statement.

Among graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, the study found, 29 percent of women but only 7 percent of men worry that an academic science career will keep them from having a family.

"It is not surprising that by the time scientists reach the postdoctoral level, women are much less likely than men to report considering a tenure-track academic job at a research university," study co-author Anne E. Lincoln of Southern Methodist University said in a statement.

The study also found that approximately 25 percent of both men and women are likely to consider a career outside of science purely because of what they see as the potential constraints on their family lives.

"Graduate students who have had fewer children than desired are 21 percent more likely to report considering a career outside science, and postdoctoral fellows are 29 percent more likely to report the same interest," Lincoln said.

Data for the study was collected from 2,500 scientists in the nation's top 20 PhD programs in astronomy, biology and physics, as ranked by the National Research Council and correlated with the rankings of U.S. News & World Report.

"This study has particularly important implications for early career scientists at top research universities, those who will guide the future of science in the U.S.," Ecklund said. "Given these findings, universities would do well to re-evalute how family-friendly their policies are."

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