Despite strides in family-leave offerings, and men taking a greater role in parenting, women in academia still experience about a 20% drop in productivity after having a child, while their male counterparts generally do not, according to new research. 

The study, published this week in the journal Science Advances, suggests that persistent differences in parenting roles are the key reason that men tend to publish more research papers than women.  Because publishing is closely linked to promotion, this gender gap could have long-term impacts on what academia looks like in the future.

The researchers from SFI and CU Boulder also found that while parental leave is critically important for women seeking faculty positions, 43% of institutions have no such policy. All this matters, the authors note, because publishing is a key factor in determining who gets promoted and gets tenure. Those scholars end up teaching the next generation of researchers, and crafting and shaping key public policies, noted lead author Allison Morgan of CU Boulder.

SFI External Professor Aaron Clauset (CU Boulder), Samuel Way (CU Boulder), Michael Hoefer (CU Boulder), former SFI Omidyar Fellow Daniel Larremore (CU Boulder), and SFI Professor Mirta Galesic also contributed to the research.

Read the paper, “The unequal impact of parenthood in academia,” in Science Advances (February 24, 2021)

Read the complete press release at CU Today (February 25, 2021)

Read the article, “Women in Academia Disadvantaged by Unequal Division of Parental Labor and Leave, Study Finds” in IFL Science (March 2, 2021)

Read the article, “Universities are failing women when it comes to parental leave,” in the Academic Times (March 4, 2021)

[Research brief text courtesy Lisa Marshall/CU Boulder]