Marriage Helps Male Professors Get Ahead

It does not help women. At least according to a study done with history professors in academia.

I realize this study did not focus on STEM fields, but I do notice something similar occurring in my area of study. I’ve had this discussion with many of my female friends as well. What happens when you are a female academic and you want to have a family?

It seems that much of the expectation and responsibility falls on the women. I’ve heard some people say it seems un-masculine for men to take paternity leave. Many of my mentors and role models are men who have wives that not only take care of the kids, they take care of day to day living tasks like paying bills, buying groceries, car and house maintenance, and anything else non-work related. My own mother was one of these amazing women, and there is no doubt it helped my father succeed.

Yet, when it comes to the complete reverse, I don’t see it happening. In fact, looking at all of the women I know as mentors in academia, none of them have a thrifty stay at home husband. That’s not to say it never happens. I’ve certainly encountered a few stay at home dads outside the academic world. However, it comes as no surprise that marriage is still statistically a detriment to women.

Something that I am seeing more often with the younger and newer generation of employees is dual parenting. Men and women are splitting the duties of child rearing more often. Technology has allowed for more flexible work schedules, or just working from home. So, now it is easier for couples to split up time at home with a child.

Maybe it is not longer maternity leave that we need to keep women in the work force. Maybe it is offering more flexible schedules to women AND men. Not only does it offer children time with both parents, it would eventually phase out discrimination women may face about being the ones to take time off from work for family issues.

One response to “Marriage Helps Male Professors Get Ahead

  1. As a happily married woman, I must say that I absolutely love this quote: “it comes as no surprise that marriage is still statistically a detriment to women.” I am very lucky to have a husband (also a lawyer) who shares equally in the parenting and household responsibilities. Your observations about academia also apply to the legal profession, where the “glass ceiling” and the “maternal wall” are thick.

    You’re right that longer maternity/paternity leave could be problematic. Title VII and similar anti-discrimination laws require that such leave is available to both sexes equally (as long as it’s tied to parenting responsibilities rather than to delivery of a baby), but, as you say, women are more likely to take leave, and the longer they stay out of the workforce, the worse off they are. They become stereotyped as more committed to their children than to their jobs (a view that is illegal under Title VII–it’s called Family Responsibility Discrimination). Flexible work schedules for men and for women, and rooting out pregnancy discrimination in the workplace (through such legislation as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, if it ever passes!) are good places to start.

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