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Mobility of scientists with children

A new theoretical framework can help create better understanding for the mobility decisions of scientists with children.
Mobility of scientists with children
There is an increased demand for scientific mobility as the number of researchers within the European Research Area (ERA) is on the rise. Many barriers to mobility exist, however, especially for some groups of scientists such as women and those with children. Exactly what those barriers are remains unclear, as the same holds for strategies for coping as well as children's perspectives on the issue.

An EU-funded project, SCIFAM (Scientific mobility and family life in Europe), provided a new analysis of scientific mobility to, from and within the ERA. The work utilised multiple methods and incorporated both children's and parents' perspectives. This included a deconstruction of the term mobility to cover the various types in order to overcome barriers. Two of the main goals were to increase understanding and provide best practice examples.

An online survey was conducted with scientists across the EU and also in-person interviews with scientists and their children in Ireland and the United Kingdom. This uncovered how complex and multifaceted mobility decision making is when it concerns family contexts. Motivations for mobility for scientists with children include research and employment opportunities, fieldwork and networking. Children also discussed both the perceived advantages of moving countries and the challenges.

Results show the importance of mobility decisions of scientists in relation to their family life as well as to their employment situation. This can be helpful for institutions, national bodies and the European Commission to find ways to overcome barriers to mobility for scientists with children. Findings can be useful for policy recommendations to be disseminated widely and help to deliver equality of opportunity for all scientists across the ERA.

Related information


Mobility, scientists, children, scientific mobility, European Research Area, family, employment
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