An international survey suggests a new workplace environment is needed to attract 21st century workers to careers in science and technology.
Investigators surveyed 4,225 publishing scientists and researchers worldwide and discovered a lack of flexibility in the workplace, dissatisfaction with career development opportunities and low salaries are driving both men and women to reconsider their profession.
More than half (54 percent) of all scientists and researchers said that work demands conflict with their personal lives at least 2-3 times per week.
Only a third of researchers agreed they work for family-friendly institutions. Many reported that their employers do not have spousal hire policies or that such policies are not available because of funding cuts.
Only half of the women (52 percent) reported that they are happy with their work-life integration, compared with 61 percent of men working in research across all fields.
One-third of researchers said that ensuring good work-life integration has negatively impacted their careers and women (37 percent) were more likely than men (30 percent) to say this was the case. For those researchers with dependent children, 36 percent reported career problems.
Nearly 40 percent of women respondents have delayed having children because of their careers, while 27 percent of males indicated the same situation. A number of women mentioned waiting until they had a permanent position to get pregnant or noted that they could not afford to start a family on their wages.
One in 10 researchers indicated that they expect to leave their current job within the next year. Of those intending to leave, females were twice as likely (12 percent) as males (6 percent) to cite a spouse’s job offer or relocation as the reason. Of researchers intending to leave, 9 percent indicated it was because they were unable to balance work and life demands.
The survey was released during the convening of “Global Experts on Work-Life Family Issues” and coincided with International Women’s Day and the United Nation’s 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
“These findings confirm that work-life conflict is not gender-specific in the scientific community,” said Janet Bandows Koster.
“The real issue is that the academic workplace is still modeled on an ideal that no longer exists nor complements the realities of today’s global workforce.”
If researchers who want a fulfilling home and work-life are being driven out of the industry through archaic working practices, she said, it’s time to address the system itself.
“Let’s stop pointing the finger at women by putting a ‘baby’ band aid on the problem and solve the real issues,” said Bandows Koster.
Survey respondents were working scientists and researchers who publish academically across all disciplines.