In the context of various ongoing debates on gender inequality in academia, I have been wondering whether women in academia tend to take sabbatical research leaves less often than men, and whether this affects their productivity and later career success. Here are, in particular, two considerations:
First some institutions require that in order to take a sabbatical leave one should go abroad, or move to another university. And if you need to supplement what your institution is paying you during your leave with a fellowship, there are ‘Residential fellowships’ that you can only take up under the condition that you are able to move. It seems that women who have young children might be at a disadvantage here, because they are unwilling, or unable either to leave their family behind, or take them along. Of course, this applies to fathers as well, but I wonder whether there might still be academic fathers whose spouses are willing to uproot themselves to follow them while looking after the kids. There is a nice article on women and residential fellowships here. One of the comments highlights the particular issue of parents with children who have special needs for whom moving the family will require rather more than just finding a new house and new schools.
Secondly I wonder whether, again, in the case of academic mothers, stay-at-home sabbaticals may have a tendency to turn into parental leaves which might either lead to reluctance to take the leave, or to a less productive leave, research wise.
Arguably, not everyone who goes on a sabbatical or takes up a research fellowship will be productive. But it seems that having had the experience of being paid just to do research may be good for one’s confidence, and having received funding to do research certainly does no harm to one’s employability, or prospects of promotion.
Is anyone aware of any studies that have been conducted on this?