Why are women still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs? Social processes beyond individual preferences may shape the STEM employment trajectories of new mothers and new fathers differently. Using representative US longitudinal survey data, we followed full-time STEM professionals after the birth or adoption of their first child. We found substantial attrition of new parents; nearly one-half of new mothers and nearly one-quarter of new fathers leave full-time STEM employment after having children. Thus, parenthood is an important driver of gender imbalance in STEM employment, and both mothers and fathers appear to encounter difficulties reconciling caregiving with STEM careers. These findings have implications for the vitality of the US science and engineering workforce.
The Center for Research on Gender in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) fosters social scientific research on gender disparities in STEMM fields. Sex segregation in fields of study and careers, and underrepresentation of women in STEMM fields specifically, motivates the work of CRG-STEMM affiliates.
We take into account the ways in which men's and women's professional opportunities are shaped by race, ethnicity, nationality and sexual identity as well as gender. We study these processes within specific professions, including academic science, medicine, and STEMM industries.
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