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Maternity Benefits across UK HEIs

Productivity takes Leave? Examining the Causes and Impact of Maternity Leave Policies on Academic Careers

This project is funded by the ESRC centre CAGE, the British Academy, and the Leverhulme Trust


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.

See me talk about our maternity research: [Q1] [Q2] [Q3]


Bargaining over Maternity Pay: Evidence from UK Universities, forthcoming Journal of Public Policy.


CAGE/SMF policy briefing paper, 17 April 2018

Working Papers:

How much do children really cost? Maternity benefits and career opportunities of women in academia

Media Coverage / Press Releases

CUP blog, 15/05/2019

World Economic Forum, 18/02/2018

The Conversation, 15/02/2018

British Academy Blog Post, 07/02/2018

BBC Radio4 Women's Hour, 26/01/2018

Better maternity leave could help universities retain women, The Guardian, 21/01/2018

More generous maternity pay could boost productivity,, 19/01/2018

How much do children really cost?, CAGE Advantage magazine, Winter 2018


Vera E. Troeger, Department of Economics, University of Warwick

Mariaelisa Epifanio, Department of Politics, University of Liverpool

Thomas Scotto, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Strathclyde