It is a fact that women face the challenge of balancing a career and family over men. They drop out of their jobs to give more time to their family. There is an equal representation of undergraduates at the entry-level, with roughly half being female. These undergraduate females even perform better than the males in terms of grades and work. However, senior positions like dean and president are held by males and not females. The worthy candidates must hold senior positions according to their caliber and dedication to work. Now, the question is, what prevents so many eligible women from putting a break in their careers?
In academia, it is no secret that there is gender inequality, and women usually receive fewer grants, earn less, and are rarely promoted. Another factor that creates gender disparity is “the unavoidable coincidence of the productive and reproductive years.” Job security is one such challenge faced by young scientists. The researchers get a position at a late age where they must prove themselves professionally to maintain the place, such as setting up labs, teaching students, getting grants, publishing papers, etc. Sadly, most women want to start a family or have young children at this age. It becomes challenging for women to balance academic and household life. A study found that 70% of women believe tenure track positions are incompatible with having children since they involve a lot of pressure, competition, uncertainty, and long working hours.
It is the strict system and a society dominated by male-dominated that make academia challenging for mothers. Women scientists with kids frequently encounter prejudice because they have flexible timings, leave beforehand to care for an ill or breastfeeding baby, etc. Many young mothers in academics are asked to take part-time jobs or give up a career due to the lack of paid maternity leave, excessively short paternity absences, and childcare help.
The worse part is the difficulty that mothers face in recuperating from the hindrance to their careers caused by delivery. Women in science find it challenging to restart their careers following the initial pause or slowness caused by delivery. It is because of the years spent raising children, women typically handle greater duties at home, which makes it challenging for the new job roles that come with a raise. Average incomes for women in academics are 29% lower than those for men, even after retirement.
Many organizational-level actions can be taken to support equal opportunities for women in academia. Mothers who gave up their careers for their babies should be encouraged to continue and be provided with any academic assistance required. Steps should be taken to ensure equal pay, promotion, and involvement of women researchers in research papers’ writing, submission, and publication. A more significant change in society is needed where men take charge of the household and childcare duties. With promising outcomes, many universities and organizations have begun to apply these structural modifications.