New Accommodations for Old Obstacles: Thoughts on Being a Young Mother in Academia

For women in academia, it’s practically a cliché: balancing children and a competitive career is nearly impossible. A quick internet search will pull up hundreds of articles citing the many ways in which starting a family can and will adversely affect a woman’s career. For example, The US News cited in their 2013 article on “The Baby Penalty” that “[m]en with young children are 35 percent more likely than women with young children to secure tenure-track positions after completing their Ph.D.s.,” and mothers of young children are 33 percent less likely to land a tenure-track job than childless women. In addition, mothers who secure a tenure-track position are 20 percent less likely to eventually earn tenure than fathers. American academic culture was largely shaped by men who were either married to stay-at-home wives or remained bachelors, and as such, the expected trajectory of an academic career fails to take young motherhood (and engaged young fatherhood) into account. These issues and their various ramifications have been very much on my mind this last year. 

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