Campus News

Berkeley professor addresses career and family balancing act

For women pursuing full professorships or top spots in other high-end fields and hoping to have a family, there’s a lot of discouraging news, according to Mary Ann Mason, a professor in law and social welfare at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mason co-authored her latest book, Mothers on the Fast Track: How the New Generation Can Balance Career and Family, with her daughter, Eva Mason Ekman. She gave a lecture about family and academia Nov. 8 on campus.

“Women are dropping out of the pipeline (toward full professorships),” Mason said. “They’re dropping out because of family issues.”

Her research showed that men with “early” babies—those who had a child within five years of the man receiving a Ph.D.—are 38 percent more likely than their female counterparts to achieve tenure.

Academia and other careers such as law, medicine and administrative business require people to invest lots of time in their 20s and 30s, the stage many find suitable to have babies and raise small children.

This tends to force women into non-tenure track positions, because they aren’t able to strike a balance between career and familial obligations. 

Her research led to ground-breaking family friendly policies instituted across the University of California system.

“It has become our competitive edge. We now advertise our family-friendly policies when we’re recruiting new faculty, she said.”