Juggling parenthood and ornithology: A full lifecycle approach to supporting mothers through the American Ornithological Society

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Lerman, Susannah B.
Pejchar, Liba
Benedict, Lauryn
Covino, Kristen M.
Dickinson, Janis L.
Fantle-Lepczyk, Jean E.
Rodewald, Amanda D.
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Vleck, Carol
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
The understanding that motherhood impacts career paths is so pervasive among early-career scientists that some feel they must choose parenthood or a career. The penalties associated with motherhood can contribute to the “leaky pipeline,” which equates to the high attrition rate of women due to social, economical, or temporal factors as they proceed through their career and exacerbates persistent gender gaps at mid- and late-career stages. Here, we review the literature and summarize common challenges faced by ornithologist mothers and nonbinary parents, and we adopt a full lifecycle approach to recommend evidence-based strategies for overcoming those challenges. The American Ornithological Society (AOS) is well positioned to support and celebrate women and nonbinary ornithologists who choose parenthood, and we highlight progress made by the AOS to improve gender diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Society. For example, AOS caregiver grants allow more parents to attend and participate in conferences. We suggest additional initiatives (e.g., elevating role models, hosting mentoring networks, and disseminating best practices) that could further support women who want to become or already are parents while also achieving rewarding careers in ornithology. AOS leadership can take steps to close the gender gap in ornithology and other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields. With a larger, more diverse, and talented community, the Society will be better equipped to achieve its mission: conserving and understanding bird life on earth, enriching ornithology as a profession, and mentoring young professionals.
This article is published as Susannah B Lerman, Liba Pejchar, Lauryn Benedict, Kristen M Covino, Janis L Dickinson, Jean E Fantle-Lepczyk, Amanda D Rodewald, Carol Vleck, Juggling parenthood and ornithology: A full lifecycle approach to supporting mothers through the American Ornithological Society, Ornithological Applications, Volume 123, Issue 2, 4 May 2021, duab001, https://doi.org/10.1093/ornithapp/duab001. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.