Parenthood contributes to gender imbalance in STEM employment, but it's not just an issue for mother

February 18, 2019, University of Michigan
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Nearly half of new moms and a quarter of new dads leave their full-time STEM jobs after they have their first child, according to a new study.

Researchers found that 43 percent of women and 23 percent of men leave their careers in science, technology, engineering and math within four to seven years of the birth or adoption of their first child.

Women have been underrepresented in the male-dominated STEM fields for decades, especially as they moved further up the career trajectory. Parenthood may contribute to the , in part, due to gender-related cultural expectations and workplace obstacles, the researchers say.

"Not only is parenthood an important driver of gender imbalance in STEM employment, both mothers and fathers appear to encounter difficulties reconciling caregiving with STEM careers," said the study's lead author Erin Cech, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Michigan.

Cech and Mary Blair-Loy, professor of sociology at the University of California-San Diego, analyzed nationally representative longitudinal survey data from U.S. STEM professionals collected between 2003 and 2010 by the National Science Foundation.

They say that new moms are more likely than new dads to switch to part-time work or leave the workforce.

Some new mothers—about 1 in 10—continue working in STEM on a part-time basis, but that situation isn't without setbacks: businesses and universities typically pay part-time work substantially less per hour than full-time work; is less likely to be accompanied by benefits, like ; and is less likely to provide advancement opportunities.

"Our results indicate the need for employers to establish highly valued and well-paid part-time options as well as ramp-up policies that allow part-time STEM professionals to transition back into full-time work without long-term career penalties," Blair-Loy said.

If parents leave the STEM workforce, they are unlikely to return by the time their children are old enough to attend school, the researchers say.

"These findings point to the importance of cultural shifts within STEM to value the contributions of STEM professionals with children and the need for creative organizational solutions to help these skilled STEM professionals navigate new caregiving responsibilities alongside their STEM work," Cech said.

Blair-Loy says profound change is needed.

"We need a within many fields to recognize and reward the full value of professionals who also care for children," said Blair-Loy, who also directs the Center for Research on Gender in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine at UC-San Diego.

Explore further: Early choice of math among U.S. immigrant kids lead to STEM careers

More information: Erin A. Cech el al., "The changing career trajectories of new parents in STEM," PNAS (2019).

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5 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2019
It sucks that the realities of biology gets in the way of today's progressive ideology.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2019
"Researchers found that 43 percent of women and 23 percent of men leave their careers in science, technology, engineering and math within four to seven years of the birth or adoption of their first child."

Good. Family is FAR more important than career. It's disgusting how democrats only see people as economic units, whose sole purpose is to work and make cheap stuff for democrats to buy. It's disgusting how democrats demean the idea of family and completely devalue married mothers.

"Women have been underrepresented in the male-dominated STEM fields for decades, especially as they moved further up the career trajectory."

Women are NOT "underrepresented in the male-dominated STEM fields". Women do NOT WANT to be in those fields. Stop thinking women are too stupid to know what they want, so you have to step in to impose yourself on women and force women to do things against their will.
not rated yet Feb 19, 2019
well, the little wee-wee boys club has been heard from, yelling up out of their mommies basements.

Now for us adult males. Who had men for role models & actually associate with the females of this species?

Psst, we get to have sex, with women! Don"t tell nobody,

Don't you wish you could over come the trauma of failing at potty training?
Alas, the stigma is publicly revealed on your foreheads.

The reason so many men leave the STEM jobs, when they start a family?
They got actively recruited for better paying jobs with better benefits,

& one of those benefits as corporate execs? They don't have to put up with any crap from parasites like you two. Such as academics & scientists forbidden to reply to insults.

As for either of you two buffoons telling women what to do?
Is a sick joke from your depraved perversity that you bombast your entitlement to bully & beat them into submission.
not rated yet Feb 19, 2019

Your comment is an excellent example of Poe's Law. And you categorically refuse to engage with the points either I or tblakely1357. Instead, you choose insults, and childishly focus on "wee-wee[s]". Heh.
not rated yet Feb 20, 2019
so little boy, you misogynists demand the "right" to abuse & terrorize females?

Then, when I call you on your spineless lack of moral character?

You fall apart bleating distress that anyone would censure your pathetic delusions of masculinity?

Yep. Works for me!

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