Vienna Institute of Demography Working Papers 1/2011
Academic women in Austria and Germany have extraordinarily high final levels of childlessness of 45-60%, as documented by prior research. This study investigates how female scientists' fertility behaviour relates to their childbearing ideals and intentions in Austria. It analyses whether high childlessness and low numbers of children are intended or not. By looking additionally at employment conditions and partnership status, this study points to possible obstacles hindering couples to realise their childbearing desires. Furthermore, it shows how female scientists combine their academic career and childcare. The analysis is based on a sample of female scientists who had applied for a grant at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (n=196). It comprises women aged 25-45 who work in different scientific fields in Austria. Female scientists aged 40-45 have 0.9 children on average and 44% remain childless. However, these levels are far from the number of offspring that young scientists under the age of 35 intend to have. They perceive on average two as their ideal and intended number; only around 10% want to stay childless. Several obstacles which impede childbearing were identified, e.g. the strong work commitment of the female scientists, the need to be geographically mobile and the high prevalence of living apart together relationships. As for the combination of work and family, female scientists return back to work quickly after they have a child. Most do not regard the family as the main caregiver but perceive a division of tasks between the family and the public as preferable.
Female scientists fertility intentions Austria GGS