Yesterday I read an article by Wolfinger and colleagues who investigated the effects of marriage and childrenon women’s trajectory in academia, and today I perused an article by Morrison and colleagues who reinforced the previous findings, adjusting slightly one aspect. While Wolfinger found that marriage decreases the likelihood for women to enter tenure-track positions, Morrison found that women’s marital status had little if any effect on their academic progress. Furthermore, Morrison finds that the group who gains tenure the most quickly is men who are married to partners without professional-level degrees. Sorry, Andy.
These findings are interesting to me in a couple ways. First, I will be conducting my own research project this semester with a classmate, and I find this topic interesting. More importantly, I find myself asking questions about whether the researchers considered this factor, or whether they worded the question in such a way that they can now make the claims they have published. Nuances, really, but I think they are important.
In another way, this article interests me because it looks like family formation really does have quite a bit of an effect on women’s careers especially, and men’s careers as well, though on a different scale. I’m not sure how much I’m going to let these findings, or even the cultural fear of women in academia having families, have much of an effect on the decisions I make for myself. As I’ve mentioned before, my career takes a back seat to my family, and this is the choice I’ve made. It’s good to know this stuff, though!
Morrison, E., Rudd, E., & Nerad, M. (2011). Onto, up, off the academic faculty ladder: The gendered effects of family on career transitions for a cohort of Social Science Ph.D.s. The Review of Higher Education (34)4, 525-553.