Survey: Academics of 2017

The Centre for Gender and Science and the Public Opinion Research Centre conducted a representative survey among academics working in the Czech Republic about their work conditions, wellbeing and job satisfaction. The survey was part of the project “Analysis of Barriers and Support Strategy for Equality in Science and Research”, funded by the EU Operational Programme Employment (OPE), which combines qualitative and quantitative research methods. Here we present the preliminary results of the representative survey.

We received 2,089 responses from pedagogical staff and researchers and career academics working in public academic sector, Czech Academy of Sciences and other public research institutions. The survey was conducted online between May – August 2017.

The survey revealed that academic work involves high workloads and long working hours (women and men work on average 46.5 hours per week). A majority of the respondents – mostly women – confessed that too much work is expected from them. The pressure on publication output (over 58% of respondents) and applying for grants (39%) were most frequently mentioned.

The survey also noted researchers experience a high degree of stress and physical and mental exhaustion. Over 40% of women and men felt exhausted for the entire and large part in the last 4 weeks prior to the survey. 35% of women and 29% of men stated they were always or almost always under a great deal of stress.

The academic profession also involves a high degree of precarity. Only 35.3% of respondents had a permanent contract (38.1% men and 32.3% women). 18% of respondents report high fear or extremely high fear related to losing their job. Those who have fixed contracts report the highest degree of fear.

Dependence on temporary funding is common particularly in public research institutions and the Academy of Sciences. About two fifths of researchers have their whole salary or a large part of it paid from grants (43.2% of researchers at public research institutions and 40% at the Academy of Sciences).

Academic careers are increasingly marked by low average wages with a high gender pay gap. Women predominate in low wage groups with a monthly salary of up to CZK 25,000 (approx.. EUR 1,000). The percentage of women and men in this wage group are as follows:

  • 43% of women versus 26.5% of men at universities
  • 36% of women versus 14% of men at the Academy of Sciences
  • 39% of women versus 21.5% of men in public research institutions

Men predominate in wage groups with a monthly salary over CZK 40,000 (approx.. EUR 1,600):

  • 8% of men versus 12% of women at universities
  • 7% of men versus 11.1% of women at the Academy of Sciences
  • 4% of men versus 5.1% of women in public research institutions

Around 19% of academics were not satisfied with their job. Low wages were mentioned most frequently (by 63% of respondents). Other factors that contribute to academics feeling unhappy about their academic job were:

  • Research evaluation (36.7%)
  • Work prospects (33.2%)
  • Using one’s knowledge and expertise (29.4%)

In general, women reported being less happy than men.

Women reported higher negative experience related to maternity.

  • 7% of women reported negative comments by colleagues and superiors related to childcare responsibilities. They were recommended not to take maternity leave for longer than one year (in the Czech Republic the customary length of the parental leave is 3 years on top of 28 maternity leave).
  • 9% of women reported their colleagues discouraged them from having children in the coming years
  • 7% of women reported they were told they would be dismissed if they had children.

As for gender equality in the workplace, men perceived the situation significantly more positively than women.

  • 59% of men but only 39% of women stated superiors did not discriminate against women or men.
  • 56% of men but only 36% of women stated that men and women had equal opportunities to get promoted to decision-making positions.
  • 68% of men but only 55% of women said the atmosphere at their workplace was friendly towards pregnant women, was not misogynistic and offensive.

As for the representation of women in decision-making positions, the survey shows that it remains low in academic institutions.

  • In the decision-making positions the share of men reached 30%, while only 17.5% of women were represented in these positions.

The most significant differences in holding leadership positions are visible in medical, natural and technical sciences.

We will inform you about the qualitative part of the survey in our next newsletter 2/2018.

By Marta Vohlídalová