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'Not Just a Woman's Problem'

This week, Rice University's Elaine Howard Ecklund and Southern Methodist University's Anne Lincoln report in PLoS One that "having fewer children than wished as a result of the science career affects the life satisfaction of science faculty and indirectly affects career satisfaction." This, the authors add, is "not just a woman's problem." Indeed, Ecklund and Lincoln say that the negative effect on life satisfaction "of having fewer children than desired is more pronounced for male than female faculty, with life satisfaction strongly related to career satisfaction." The researchers also show that grad students and postdocs who have had fewer children than they desired "are more likely to … exit science entirely," irrespective of gender. "… It is concerning," the authors write, "that a significant proportion of men and women … are considering leaving science" because of the impacts scientific careers can have on family life. The authors say their work could inform future mentoring services and family leave policies at research institutions.