What gender equality? Family and careers in high-skill jobs

Let’s take the example of historians. How equal are their career paths of women and men historians, our fellow social scientists (humanities scholars)? According to Alexis Coe, writer and journalist based in San Francisco, being married helps professors, but only if they are male. The author – herself a former graduate student in history – summarises the findings of a new study of historians’ working lives published in December 2012:

Female historians who were either married or had been married at the time of the 2010 survey took an average of 7.8 years to move from associate to full professor. Women who had never married were promoted in an average of 6.7 years. Almost two times as many of the female full professors listed their status as divorced or separated, which suggests their professional obligations were somehow less compatible with marriage than their male colleagues. They were also more likely than their male colleagues to have never wed at all.

Conversely, male historians who were or had been married advanced in 5.9 years. The unmarried man took 6.4 years, a bit longer.

Female professors were more likely to have a spouse or partner with a doctoral degree, 54.7 percent to men’s 30.9 percent. Their partners were also more likely to work in academe, 49.6 percent to 36.3 percent.

Source: The Atlantic.

American History Association members can read about the survey here.

As Kay S. Hymowitz sums up in her article, The plight of the Alpha Female,

Children completely change the landscape for women.”

But we need to also ask the unasked question: not only why so few women want to sacrifice family for their careers – but why do so many men?


Categories: Higher Education

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