Onethird of male academic scientists willing to scale back career to focus

first_img“Male Scientists’ Competing Devotions to Work and Family: Changing Norms in a Male-Dominated Profession” is one of the first articles to examine the changing norms of fatherhood and flexible workplaces in male-dominated professions. Elaine Howard Ecklund, Rice’s Autrey Professor of Sociology and the study’s co-author, said she and her fellow authors were interested in the variation that exists in the family lives of male scientists. ShareRice UniversityOffice of Public AffairsNEWS RELEASEAmy [email protected] of male academic scientists willing to scale back career to focus on familyHOUSTON – (Sept. 11, 2014) – One-third of men in academic science are willing to scale back their careers to focus on family life, according to a new study from Rice University, Pennsylvania State University and Southern Methodist University that suggests traditional family roles may be shifting. “Despite the growing amount of research devoted to women in science, there has been relatively little research on the work-life balance of men in academic science,” Ecklund said. “The majority of existing research on academic men has focused on differences between men and women, leaving us with little information about variation among male scientists. Yet, academic science remains dominated by men, so we need to know if they deal with the same issues balancing work and family life as do women.”The research revealed that one-third of men in academic science largely expect to be involved equally at home and are willing to reduce their work devotion to do so. The study also showed that 64 percent of men interviewed spoke of their desire to be more involved at home and indicated that they make efforts to spend increased time at home. However, 15 percent of respondents chose to forgo childrearing, either by marrying and making a commitment not to have children or by remaining single with no intention of having children.“The men who are forgoing children avoid much work-family conflict by placing work above all other commitments and avoiding what may be the most time-demanding of family commitments,” Ecklund said.The study included in-depth interviews with 74 men across different ranks in biology and physics at prestigious U.S. universities. The interviews were conducted between June 2009 and April 2011 and took between 20 minutes and two hours. Each respondent was interviewed once, either in person or by phone. The average age of men in the sample was 41; the median age was 39.Participants were asked questions about whether they had children, raising children and maintaining a career as a scientist, career challenges and future steps, how their careers impacted the number of children they chose to have, balancing their career and their spouse’s career/household duties and other topics.The study was part of the larger National Science Foundation-funded research project, “Perceptions of Women in Academic Science” (NSF Gender in Science and Engineering Program), which examined women’s and men’s self-reported reasons for pursuing academic science careers as well as the perceptions both genders have of women’s contributions to academic science between 2007 and 2011. Ecklund served as principal investigator (PI) for the project; paper co-author Anne Lincoln, associate professor of sociology at SMU, served as co-PI. The larger study includes a survey of more than 2,000 biologists and physicists working at elite U.S. research interviews and in-depth interviews with 150 of them.The article’s lead author was Sarah Damaske, an assistant professor of labor studies, employment relations and sociology at Penn State University. The paper was also co-authored by Virginia White, a graduate student at the University of Chicago. The study will appear in an upcoming edition of Work and Occupations and was funded by the National Science Foundation and Rice University. The study is available online at” alt=”last_img” />

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