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Do Babies Matter?

Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower

Mary Ann Mason

Publication Year: 2013

The new generation of scholars differs in many ways from its predecessor of just a few decades ago. Academia once consisted largely of men in traditional single-earner families. Today, men and women fill the doctoral student ranks in nearly equal numbers and most will experience both the benefits and challenges of living in dual-income households. This generation also has new expectations and values, notably the desire for flexibility and balance between careers and other life goals. However, changes to the structure and culture of academia have not kept pace with young scholars’ desires for work-family balance.

Do Babies Matter?
is the first comprehensive examination of the relationship between family formation and the academic careers of men and women. The book begins with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, moves on to early and mid-career years, and ends with retirement. Individual chapters examine graduate school, how recent PhD recipients get into the academic game, the tenure process, and life after tenure. The authors explore the family sacrifices women often have to make to get ahead in academia and consider how gender and family interact to affect promotion to full professor, salaries, and retirement. Concrete strategies are suggested for transforming the university into a family-friendly environment at every career stage.

The book draws on over a decade of research using unprecedented data resources, including the Survey of Doctorate Recipients, a nationally representative panel survey of PhDs in America, and multiple surveys of faculty and graduate students at the ten-campus University of California system..

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Series: Families in Focus


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pp. vii-6

Figures and Tables

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pp. ix-7

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pp. xi-xii

At the University of California, Berkeley, Karie Frasch participated in our research on the careers and lives of graduate students and scientists. She also helped to develop our policy recommendations. This would not be same book without her input. Many other Berkeley colleagues provided valuable assistance,...

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pp. 1-7

Today, women receive slightly more than half the doctoral degrees granted in the United States.1 With women and men now feeding the academic pipeline in equal numbers, is it just a matter of time before we see gender parity in the professoriate? Regrettably, the answer is no. In two important measures of gender...

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Chapter 1. The Graduate School Years. New Demographics, Old Thinking

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pp. 8-25

The graduate student and postdoc years are the proving ground for future academics. Many students enter with clear plans to become professors, but end up changing their minds. There are many reasons to reject an academic career, but family considerations—marriage and children—are most prominent for...

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Chapter 2. Getting into the Game

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pp. 26-45

Perhaps the most important turning point in a young scholar’s life is the decision to pursue employment after graduate school. Given that the average doctoral student takes eight years to finish, this decision is a long time coming.1 As we saw in the previous chapter, many doctoral students, women more often...

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Chapter 3. Capturing the Golden Ring of Tenure

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pp. 46-58

On February 12, 2010, a forty- two- year- old biology professor walked into a faculty meeting at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Amy Bishop, a Harvardeducated mother of four, had that same day been denied an appeal of her negative tenure decision. Drawing a pistol, Bishop shot three of her colleagues...

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Chapter 4. Alone in the Ivory Tower

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pp. 59-82

The past two chapters of this book have focused on professional life, most notably, who gets the plum tenure- track positions, and who gets tenure. We have shown that family considerations play a critical role: married women and women with young children are less likely to get tenure- track jobs. Mothers in...

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Chapter 5. Life after Tenure

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pp. 83-95

Securing a tenure-track position represents one of the most profound moments of an academic’s career. After long years as a student, one suddenly becomes a titled professional. Next looms the challenge of a lifetime: getting tenure. On completion of a demanding probationary period, the academic gets...

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Chapter 6. Toward a Better Model

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pp. 96-114

This acknowledgment appears in UC Berkeley assistant professor Mark Brilliant’s 2010 book, The Color of America Has Changed: How Racial Diversity Shaped Civil Rights Reform in California, 1941–1978.1 Rarely, we suspect, do such public tributes to university policies occur. But until recently, it was almost as rare for...

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pp. 115-124

This book is based on primarily two data sources. The first is the nationally representative Survey of Doctorate Recipients. The second is a series of surveys conducted at the University of California....


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pp. 125-150


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pp. 151-164


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pp. 165-172

About the Author

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pp. 173-183

E-ISBN-13: 9780813560823
E-ISBN-10: 0813560829
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813560816

Page Count: 188
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: First Edition
Series Title: Families in Focus