Assistant Professor Mom

Single female science professors progress more quickly toward tenure than single men, a new National Bureau of Economics Research study concludes. However, women who have children progress more slowly, while men who marry and father children advance more quickly.

We find that in science overall, there is no gender difference in promotion to tenure or full professor after controlling for demographic, family, employer and productivity covariates and that in many cases, there is no gender difference in promotion to tenure or full professor even without controlling for covariates. However, family characteristics have different impacts on women’s and men’s promotion probabilities.

Marginal Revolution calls it the “politically incorrect paper of the month.”

It’s the structural sexism, stupid, says Matt Yglesias. The game is set up for singles and men who’ve got wives at home to care for the kids. It’s not the science department’s fault; it’s society.

At least 10 years ago, I wrote a column on research involving women in business. Same thing. Single women earned more than single men; marriage depressed women’s earnings and elevated men’s earnings. For women, marriage tends to mean less focus on career and more on family and children. For men, marriage tends to mean working harder to support children and a wife who may be working part-time or in a job that gives her more family time.

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  1. Jason Bontrager says:

    So…is this supposed to be a *bad* thing? This structual consequence of our society? Should I assume that career is inherently more worthwhile than family and that we should restructure society so as to encourage people to pursue their careers rather than having children?

    That’s working so well in Europe after all…

    (note, the above is not intended as an attack on our lovely hostess, but rather on those people who will say that the society [rather than the biology] that makes people choose between career and family is inherently flawed. You know…morons.)

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Can we refer to “Hostess”? or is host the PC form?

  3. The Wall St. Journal form is “blogress,” though that’s a little close to “ogress” for my taste.

    I do agree that people make choices and that the choice to favor family over career is neither irrational nor inherently bad. I worked part-time till my daughter was eight years old. As it turned out, I didn’t sacrifice my career as a result but I knowingly put it at risk.

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Perhaps aviatrix will resurface? Jackie Cochran or Pancho Barnes would love that.

  5. Well being that I am single at 36 and never married, no kids, also very poor currently, despite being well educated or “overqualified” as employers label me, I would like to see how much variation really exists in these stats. I am also a scientist as well. My problem is that I am seen as having nothing if I don’t have a career since I have failed at the marriage and kids game by having neither. Potential employers ask what is wrong with me. My real problem is that I moved back to be near my family in my hometown and I can’t get a decent job now, so I am outside the statistics. Several of my married female cousins have their own businesses and do very well financially. If they would have been single, they have told me that would have stayed in jobs working for other people and would be worse off financially. This is because they would not have taken the risk or have been able to take the risk. I believe that being married helped them finanically. I am trying to start my own business myself, but I lack a steady income and enough of a base to get started. I work two low paying jobs and I can’t get a third employer to work with my current schedule even for seasonal help. (Yes, I am trying to get a real career job.) I figure I need to employ myself if I want to be near my family or otherwise I am going to have to move somewhere else where I am allowed a career. I think it would help if I had a husband who had a job and steady income to give me atleast a little bit of a safety net and time to get started on my own right now. I think being single means less money when absolute everything is considered. I think married people where both spouses work still come out better finanically than a single person who makes more than one of them, very unlikely that a single person makes more than both of them combined. Even families with one breadwinner has someone who provides services that a single person would have to pay for with money. Don’t forget that single people are usually supplying the entire income for the single household. Rent doesn’t go down just because one person is living there instead of a family, and a one bedroom is not half of a two bedroom either. It costs more to be single per share of person. Plus, a single person is likely to have more costs and pay entire shares of things. I am overgeneralizing, but costs and the ability to share costs needs to be considered when talking about benefits and salary of person, whether single or married.

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Gale, hang in there. If your move home was to benefit family, don’t be reticent about asking them to support your aspirations. A family might not keep your feet warm, but they can serve as force multipliers.
    Don’t be ashamed, either, to factor into the hunt for a husband the economic benefits.

  7. My 23 year old friend works at a garage door installation company as an installer. He says that they give him a lot more money than a lot of other workers of his experience because he has 2 kids and a wife. He’s been there 4 years and already makes about $40,000 (in california).