Go back

Researcher body demands more support for mothers

Eurodoc endorses global call to action to tackle low retention of women in academia

A European body representing early career researchers has demanded more support for mothers in academia, saying it is still difficult to start and raise a family while working in the sector.

The European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers, or Eurodoc, announced on 14 May that it had endorsed the global initiative Mothers in Science, which calls for mothers in academia to be better supported, as well as for policies to address the low retention of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medical sciences.

There have been some improvements for researchers who are mothers in recent years, Eurodoc said, but added that “academia is still a comparatively family-unfriendly environment”.

Eurodoc called for more financial support and flexibility for mothers, including the introduction of childcare grants and opportunities for career breaks. It said there should be easier access to childcare for researchers, including through childcare units in research performing organisations.

‘Precarity harder to afford if you have children’

While career progression barriers are not unique to academia, the group said career paths in the sector are more precarious, which makes it more difficult for working mothers.

“What makes the situation of early career researchers that are parents or caregivers more vulnerable compared to other careers, is of course that the academic career path is so precarious, and precarity is harder to afford if you have children,” it said.

“Making academia more equal for people with children requires that this precariousness is addressed.”

Eurodoc called for research organisations to employ early-career researchers, rather than them being on temporary contracts, and to ensure they are entitled to financed parental leave.

Higher education institutions, research-performing organisations and research funders “should monitor the effectiveness of the family-friendly policies they have in place, and provide policies…where there [are] none,” the group added.