Retaining female postgraduates in academia: the role of gender and prospective parenthood

Crabb, S. and S. Ekberg (2014). "Retaining female postgraduates in academia: the role of gender and prospective parenthood." Higher Education Research & Development 33(6): 1099-1112.

Women remain under-represented in almost all academic levels at universities internationally, and previous evidence has suggested that women move out of the university system in increasing numbers as they progress from postgraduate study to an academic career. The current study aimed to explore the role of gender in the reports of study experiences and future career plans of Australian postgraduate research students (n = 249). Questionnaire data indicated women were significantly less likely than men to rate an academic career as appealing. In particular, female postgraduate students without dependent children were least likely to want to pursue an academic career. On the basis of qualitative analysis, we attribute this finding, at least in part, to a perceived incompatibility between motherhood and an academic career and discuss the implications for gender equity in higher education.

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