Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Do you put maternity leave on your CV?

Today @Scientistmother asked the following question on twitter:

It’s been something that I have struggled with too: do you let people know you have (a) child(ren) or not? On the one hand it will explain any gaps you might have in your CV, but on the other hand it may lead some people (let’s say the gray haired male subset of people) to think that you won’t work as hard. And that maybe they should hire/fund someone who doesn’t need to leave at 5 to pick their child up from daycare, or who won’t have to stay home when said child is ill. 

I remember that I went to a talk at SfN last year about work/life balance and the speaker told us that research (that I’ve been trying to cite, but haven’t been able to find yet) has shown that for men it looks good when their CV shows they have kids (for example by including that they are on the PTA of their kid’s school) but for women it doesn’t (and even looks bad).

To speak for myself: I don’t really have a gap in my CV due to BlueEyes being born (although if I hadn’t been tired, nauseous and unable to think coherently I may have got more work done…), so I generally don’t disclose this on my CV or when applying for fellowships, unless for example a fellowship allows you to submit longer after obtaining your PhD due to parental leave. What about you? Do you disclose this somewhere and if so where?


  1. I'm currently struggling with this question for a fellowship app. There's a place in the biosketch to explain "Variances from Ordinary Career Progression." I already have to list that I changed my name and why. So, writing about having Kiddo may not be that much of a leap. It also might help to explain a slight decrease in productivity. However, I'm still on the fence about it.

  2. I have an unexplained gap in my CV because I temporarily became a caregiver to a friend suffering from cancer. I had several interviews and responded concisely with that statement when asked, but most interviewers did not even notice. I also got the job I wanted. If it is being disclosed for a necessary accommodation, it still may be best to discuss in negotiations and not in the application or interview.

  3. I'm a professor currently on a search committee, and noticed that several references made a point of the fact that male candidates have families and are great dads. None of that for the female candidates, though. More of them do have gaps, though, and at least from my perspective, more info would be better, but I don't know about what my male colleagues would think. Will ask them.

  4. I think this differs country to country. The general advice for a female candidate in the US that I've heard in several fields is DON'T MENTION IT. They can't bring it up legally. I have a gap in my cv between undergrad and grad school for non family, non-academic reasons that I've just ignored after I got into grad school.

    On the other hand, in Europe, I've received the advice several times to at least mention the fact that I have a kid, even though I don't officially have a post PhD gap in my cv. I finally broke down and mentioned the year of his birth in the application form where they asked for explanations of any gaps.

    I think it matters heavily on the current norms in the country/field of the job. In these cases, doing what is expected may be a better bet than doing what feels right.

    1. I agree. But even figuring out what is expected is sometimes hard.

  5. Wow, I would totally not do it (in the US anyway), and only address it if it's asked. In addition, for my work history, I put only the years, not month/year. I was arguing about this with my hubby who is revising his resume and has a few gaps in it.

    I'm a big advocate for flexibility in the workplace, but for everyone. I don't think we should need to explain "why" and let our bosses "weigh" our reasons.

  6. Well, first I would have to of had a legit maternity leave. But that's another story for another time. I also was lucky in not really having any gaps in my record after my daughter was born, so I don't have anything on my CV. In general, I choose not to discuss my family situation for job applications/tenure-promotion (perhaps that's another conversation: stopping the tenure clock), etc. There are a few people (just a few, definitely not everyone) that I feel have negative feelings about leave/stopping clocks that make the conversation difficult. Given my lucky situation of not having any gaps in my record so far, I just leave my CV as-is.

  7. I'm a male, and nobody cares about my kids, but I do care about kids in general, so let me still comment here (sorry =).

    I would say, if it turns out that in the US the answer is "definitely NO", because everybody are chauvinistic and hate kids, at least mention that you had a gap for personal reasons. Tell them that when assessing productivity they should use a lower denominator. Maybe not in the CV, but in the cover letter... At least in the form of "despite a one year gap, I was ridiculously productive all these years".

    But if there's any hope that mentioning a kid would not hurt you, if there's any doubt about that, please, do mention the kid explicitly. Especially if males have a tendency of doing so. Because what't the heck?! While every single parent may be hesitant of fighting this battle on their own, it is a battle worth fighting. The status quo should be challenged in some way or another. Otherwise things will never change.

  8. in the UK, a woman going on maternity leave is taken into account in her REF rating so it is definitely worth mentioning on the CV (if applying for a lectureship post).

  9. Great blog. I just like the site and I will get a
    visit again! In my spare time I usually try and look
    for blogs just as neat as yours
    A cv template