Book Review: Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Tower

Mary Ann Mason, Nicholas H. Wolfinger, and Marc Goulden, Do Babies Matter? Gender and Family in the Ivory Town (Rutgers U. Press, 2013).

Do babies matter to academic careers? That’s the focus of this new book. What’s the impact on graduate students? Faculty members? In retirement? Clearly, women are doing better these days in the world of higher education. Indeed, currently a bit more than half of new doctorates are awarded to women. Furthermore, their numbers have even increased significantly in such “male” fields as engineering. But… “Certainly our most important finding has been that family negatively affects women’s, but not men’s, early academic careers. Furthermore, academic women who advance through the faculty ranks have historically paid a considerable price for doing so, in the form of much lower rates of family formation, fertility, and higher rates of family dissolution.” Words and deeds: Mason and her co-authors helped to establish the UC Berkeley Faculty Family Friendly Edge program that offers a variety of benefits to families with small children, including modified departmental duties and a stop of the tenure clock after birth or adoption. There are also part-time options. Author Mason, a professor of law at Berkeley, appears on a UCtelevision one-hour talk show about the book and her research at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DHef_952rw. What should Maryland be doing?

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