9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN14 Gender Relations in the Labour Market and the Welfare State

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Gender and Science & Technology Careers I Building AA, Auditorio Afonso de Barros

PhD, Career and Families - How do PhDs in Switzerland manage family and work life?

Western civilisations are characterised by demographic changes. Difficulties in keeping the contract between generations led to the question why women become few children, how they manage family and labour market career and what price they have to pay. Especially women with academic background attract the attention with the lowest fertility rates and the highest opportunity costs.
The reasons are twofold: on one hand female academics have a biographical Problem. Their timeframe of getting a baby is comparatively short because of their long educational pathway and late job entry. Having a secure employment is a precondition for starting a family. On the other hand the combination of children and career seems to be a problem for many women. They still bear the main responsibility at home and expect career setbacks with subsequent income losses.
We describe and analyse the situation in Switzerland and answer the following questions for male and female PhDs:
1. In which phase of life and in which age do PhDs start a family?
2. How do PhDs solve the problem of compatibility of family and work? How do they organise housework and childcare?
3. Which impact do children have on the professional success of PhDs?
4. Overall, what effect has the constellation of the couple concerning their educational backgrounds (heterogeneous vs. homogeneous).
The calculations are based on a unique dataset of 1330 Swiss PhD graduates with their complete educational and professional pathways five to ten years after getting their PhD. The data allows differentiated analyses of the family situation with detailed information on the allocation of housework and childcare. Economic and sociological theories of time allocation in households are tested. First results show that PhDs start their families only two years after the average Swiss. They are more likely to live non-traditional partnerships concerning the division of labour and housework and to employ external child care. Contrary to assumptions, children do not have negative effects on the careers of female PhDs. This result is partly due to the fact that female PhDs tend to have partners, who are also well educated and successful securing the financial background.