Motherhood and professional advancements often conflict. Studies of female academics highlight gender disparities in senior ranks. One explanation for this inequality is unequal caregiving responsibilities borne by women, particularly early in their children’s lives. This project asks whether differential maternity leave provisions across 160 UK higher education institutions exacerbate differentials in the productivity, career paths and job satisfaction of female academics.
Research on maternity benefits usually is confined to case studies of a few universities or is discipline specific. Systematic empirical research on how changes in maternity leave policies affect career outcomes in the sector is lacking. This project seeks to fill this gap by providing reliable empirical results that allow examining the degree to which more generous maternity leave benefits affect female academics with children. Analyses consider variation in outcomes that potentially result both from changes in UK law and the wide variation in maternity leave benefits across the sector. We also analyse why universities across the UK have implemented occupational maternity policies that vary largely with respect to their generosity.