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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.45

Motherhood or career? Female role models in a changing world.


  • Prof. Sylvia KIRCHENGAST

Primary authors


Female role models changed dramatically during the twentieth century. Wife and mother are no longer the only accepted ""natural"" roles of women and higher education and occupational career became increasingly common in many societies. Furthermore, emancipation and the availability of effective contraceptives provided the possibility to plan reproduction and to depart from unwanted aspects of reproduction and occupying exclusively the mother role. Consequently, women are able to choose between motherhood and other activities. These new opportunities have a major impact on reproductive behavior, especially of young women. In general, increasing education lead to childbearing delay or voluntary childlessness. In all high income countries age at first birth is increasing, a trend with dramatic biomedical as well as social consequences. On the one hand, the postponement of first reproduction increase the risk of remaining involuntarily childless, on the other hand the complications during pregnancy and childbirth are more common among so called late mothers. As a consequence, the number of offspring among highly educated and successful women is decreasing because young women still suppose that they have to decide between occupational career and motherhood. This dilemma of young women is discussed from the viewpoint of Evolutionary Anthropology.