Gender, family and caregiving leave, and advancement in academic science: effects across the life course

Mary Frank Fox, Monica Gaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Family and caregiving leave are increasingly important dimensions for careers in academic science, and for vital, sustainable institutional structures. These forms of leave are intended to support equity, and particularly gender equity. A key question is how the actual use of leave affects critical milestones of advancement for women—compared to men—in (1) time to tenure and (2) the odds of promotion to full professor. We address this question with descriptive statistics and event history analyses, based on responses to a survey of 3688 US faculty members in 4 scientific fields within a range of Carnegie institutional types. We find that leave that stops the tenure clock extends time to tenure for both men and women—the effect is gender neutral. Promotion to full professor is another matter. Being a woman has a strong negative effect on the likelihood of promotion to full professor, and women are especially disadvantaged in promotion when they used tenure leave years earlier. These findings have implications for a life-course perspective on gender and advancement in academic science, the roles of caretaking and leave, and the intended and unintended consequences of leave policies for equitable and sustainable university systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6820
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2 2021


  • Academia
  • Family leave
  • Gender
  • Policy
  • Promotion
  • Science
  • Tenure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Gender, family and caregiving leave, and advancement in academic science: effects across the life course'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this