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Navigating a career while raising a family can be challenging, especially for women in academia. In this study, we examine the ways in which professional life interruptions due to child caregiving (e.g., opportunities not offered, professional travel curtailed) affect pre- and post-tenure faculty members’ career satisfaction and retention. We also examine whether sharing caregiving responsibilities with a partner affected faculty members’ (particularly women’s) career outcomes. In a sample of 753 tenure track faculty parents employed at a large research-intensive university, results showed that as the number of professional life interruptions due to caregiving increased, faculty members experienced less career satisfaction and greater desire to leave their job. Pre-tenure women’s, but not pre-tenure men’s, career satisfaction and intention to stay were negatively affected when they experienced at least one professional life interference. Pre-tenure men’s desire to stay in their job and career satisfaction remained high, regardless of the number of professional life interferences they experienced. Sharing parenting responsibilities with a partner did not buffer the demands of caregiving on pre-tenure women’s career outcomes. Our work highlights the need to consider the varied ways in which caregiving affects faculty members’ careers, beyond markers such as publications, and how institutions can support early career stage women with family-friendly practices.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Sex Roles, volume 87, in 2022 following peer review. The final publication may differ and is available at Springer via

A free-to-read copy of the final published article is available here.





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