The relationship between parenting engagement and academic performance

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Gender differences in research productivity have been well documented. One frequent explanation of these differences is disproportionate child-related responsibilities for women. However, changing social dynamics around parenting has led to fathers taking an increasingly active role in parenting. This demands a more nuanced approach to understanding the relationship between parenting and productivity for both men and women. To gain insight into associations between parent roles, partner type, research productivity, and research impact, we conducted a global survey that targeted 1.5 million active scientists; we received viable responses from 10,445 parents (< 1% response rate), thus providing a basis for exploratory analyses that shed light on associations between parenting models and research outcomes, across men and women. Results suggest that the gendered effect observed in production may be related by differential engagement in parenting: men who serve in lead roles suffer similar penalties for parenting engagement, but women are more likely to serve in lead roles and to be more engaged across time and tasks, therefore suffering a higher penalty. Taking a period of parental leave is associated with higher levels of productivity; however, the productivity advantage dissipates after six months for the US-sample, and at 12-months for the non-US sample. These results suggest that parental engagement is a more powerful variable to explain gender differences in academic productivity than the mere existence of children, and that policies should factor these labor differentials into account.

This content has been updated on February 21 2024 at 17 h 21 min.