The next Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy Research virtual seminar is March 30, from 11:00-12:15 ET. Valentina Tartari (Copenhagen Business School) will present "Publish or Procreate: The Effect of Motherhood on Academic Performance" (with S. Cairo and S. Dalum). Click HERE to register. Abstract is below. We hope you join us.
See our seminar schedule HERE.
Tim Folta (UCONN) & Maryann Feldman (ASU)
Abstract: Women are underrepresented in science and representation deficits are even greater for more senior positions and in the STEM fields. The dominant explanation is that male and female scientists, even within the same field, publish at unequal rates. Prior studies on select fields suggest that the gender gap in academic productivity reflects differential effects of childbearing on men and women, as women face tensions between the two greedy institutions of family and academia. We study the universe of STEM academics in Denmark and investigate parenthood penalties on scientific productivity of mothers and fathers, who are active in research before the birth of their first child. We employ an event study on annual research publications, an outcome especially relevant in the science domain, and rely on a unique combination of Danish registers and granular bibliometric data on publications from the database Scopus. We find that, on average, the first childbirth results in an annual penalty of 23 percent on scientific productivity of mothers across STEM fields relative to fathers in years 2 to 6 after birth. The penalty reflects a drop in annual research publications of mothers relative to their own pre-birth productivity. Our results are robust to attrition. The penalty is unchanged when conditioning on research activity after birth. Hence, unequal impacts of parenthood may be an important driver of gender inequality in science. We find that the productivity constraint on mothers is closely linked to the characteristics of their research field and household. Motherhood penalties are particularly large in bench fields, which require laboratory presence and depend on research infrastructure and in households with traditional gender norms and/or lacking access to informal help. Moreover, having a flexible partner who is receptive to the demands of research mitigates penalties on mothers.