Does gender equality matter for fertility? Demographic findings on this issue are rather inconclusive. We argue that one reason for this is that the complexity of the concept of gender equality has received insufficient attention. Gender equality needs to be conceptualized in a manner that goes beyond perceiving it as mere ‘‘sameness of distribution’’. It needs to include notions of gender equity and thus to allow for distinguishing between gender difference and gender inequality. We sketch three dimensions of gender equality related to employment, financial resources, and family work, which incorporate this understanding: (1) the ability to maintain a household; (2) agency and the capability to choose; and (3) gender equity in household and care work. We explore their impact on childbearing intentions of women and men using the European Generations and Gender Surveys. Our results confirm the need for a more nuanced notion of gender equality in studies on the relationship between gender equality on fertility. They show that there is no uniform effect of gender equality on childbearing intentions, but that the impact varies by gender and by parity.
Academic women in Austria and Germany have extraordinarily high final levels of childlessness of 45-60%, as documented by prior research. This study investigates how female scientists’ fertility behaviour relates to their childbearing ideals and intentions in Austria. It analyses whether high childlessness and low numbers of children are intended or not. By looking additionally at employment conditions and partnership status, this study points to possible obstacles hindering couples to realise their childbearing desires. Furthermore, it shows how female scientists combine their academic career and childcare. The analysis is based on a sample of female scientists who had applied for a grant at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (n=196). It comprises women aged 25-45 who work in different scientific fields in Austria. Female scientists aged 40-45 have 0.9 children on average and 44% remain childless. However, these levels are far from the number of offspring that young scientists under the age of 35 intend to have. They perceive on average two as their ideal and intended number; only around 10% want to stay childless. Several obstacles which impede childbearing were identified, e.g. the strong work commitment of the female scientists, the need to be geographically mobile and the high prevalence of living apart together relationships. As for the combination of work and family, female scientists return back to work quickly after they have a child. Most do not regard the family as the main caregiver but perceive a division of tasks between the family and the public as preferable.