Study Finds That Many Academic Scientists Wish They Had More Children

A new study by sociologists Elaine Howard Ecklund of Rice University and Anne E. Lincoln of Southern Methodist University finds that many academic scientists believe that their careers have hindered their family life. The results of the authors’ survey show that nearly half of all women scientists and one quarter of all male scientists at 30 of the nation’s top research universities believe that their careers have kept them from having as many children as they wanted.

The results showed that 72 percent of the women faculty in the sciences were married and 64 percent had children. The average number of children for women scientists was 1.88. But 45.4 percent wished they could have had more children but believed that their career had gotten in the way. The women scientists reported that they worked an average of 56 hours each week, slightly more hours than the average for male scientists.

Professor Ecklund states that “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.”

Professor Ecklund has been on the faculty at Rice University since 2008. She previously taught at the University of Buffalo. Her latest book, Science Vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think, was published by Oxford University Press in May, 2010.

Dr. Ecklund holds bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University

Dr. Lincoln has taught at SMU since 2006. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Washington State University and earned a Ph.D. in sociology at North Carolina State University.

The study, “Scientists Want More Children,” was published in the journal PLoS ONE. It is available here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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