Frank Schubert, Sonja Engelage
May 19, 2016
There is a general perception that children show negative effects on the career of women because mothers behave differently in regard to education, the labor market, role-orientation and cost-benefit calculations in balancing family and work life. Do these mechanisms also apply to strongly career-orientated women with PhDs, and how do children affect the careers of male PhDs? We have investigated these questions by analyzing a unique dataset of more than 1,300 Swiss PhDs which includes their complete educational and professional pathways. Using event history models we analyze indicators of occupational success such as wage and professional status. Results show that women with a PhD rarely leave the labor market for a long time and return rather quickly to their jobs after giving birth to a child. Longer absences from the labor market and part-time work are associated with career penalties but there is no direct effect of children on the career success independent of such mediating factors. At the time of our survey there was, in management positions, an equal share of childless women and mothers. Male PhDs benefit from fatherhood by generating higher incomes and moving upward more quickly in management positions. Our results thus indicate that to speak about children as career handicaps is not justified in the case of highly educated academics.