Career and family: the life journey of academics in Italy

A survey for academic staff

Olga Gorodetskaya
Doctoral School of Social Sciences – University of Trento
PhD Programme in Sociology and Social Research

One of the most significant socio-economic trends over the past few decades has been the growing participation of women in the labor market in all industrialized countries. With the overall expansion of employment, women have essentially improved and reinforced their labor market positions, career prospects, as well as their wage levels. Despite these positive changes, existing research documents a persistent gender gap in the access to top-level positions, even though women have caught up or even overtook men concerning educational attainment. Nowadays women represent about half of the population of PhD graduates among EU countries. The gender parity achieved in rates of PhD completion, however, is a fairly recent phenomenon, and hence the academic labor market appears still gendered in favor of men.

Existing literature shows that the gender gap in academia is still an extremely relevant topic, particularly in the Italian context even though there has been significant progress towards gender equality, developing gender policies aimed at creating equal rights and opportunities for all groups of academics. Despite the abundance of research on gender inequality, there is no cohesive, comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of its reproduction. The current study aims to explore the extent to which childbearing (or parenting more broadly) is responsible for the gender gap in scientific outcomes such as scientific productivity and occupational position. Notwithstanding its relevance, this topic is understudied also due to a lack of adequate empirical data. Therefore, we implement the primary data collection. Using an online formal questionnaire and convenience sampling method, we can obtain unique original longitudinal data on academics in Italy providing a reliable basis for assessing the causal relationship between parenthood and scientific outcomes.

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