Assistant Professor Alejandra Ros Pilarz Receives Large NIH Training and Research Grant

Dr. Alejandra Ros Pilarz
Dr. Alejandra Ros Pilarz

Multi-year funding will aid research on mothers’ work schedules and children’s health and development

The number of hours moms work outside the home increased dramatically over the past 50 years and in recent decades, the nature of their work schedules has become progressively geared toward a “24/7” service, or “gig” economy. This means that working moms’ schedules, like those of many other workers, are not always tied to a predictable 9-5, Monday-Friday routine, but are instead variable or at other times of the day and week. The implications of these changes in mothers’ employment on children’s health and development is part of a new research project by Assistant Professor Alejandra Ros Pilarz .

In aid of that work, entitled, ​​“Understanding Trends in Mothers’ Work Schedules: Implications for Child Health and Development,” Dr. Pilarz received a K01 grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The award will fund the research and help provide training for Dr. Pilarz to become a leading expert on how parental employment impacts child health and development.

“This opportunity will help expand my research on maternal employment, provide me with the time and resources to learn new skills, and make a significant contribution to better understanding how mothers’ employment matters for child and family wellbeing,” said Dr. Pilarz.

The research conducted will describe trends in mothers’ work hours and schedules over the past 30 years; examine changes in the associations between mothers’ work hours and schedules, time with children, and child care arrangements over time; and estimate associations between mothers’ work schedules and children’s health and development.

The grant will provide funding for Dr. Pilarz to receive training to address these research questions. Specifically, Dr. Pilarz will receive mentorship and instruction in demography and demographic methods; family processes, child health, and middle childhood development; and advanced quantitative methods.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has made all the more clear, the labor market in the U.S. has become increasingly unequal. Higher-quality jobs with better benefits and more flexibility are concentrated at the top of the wage distribution, and lower-quality jobs reside at the bottom,” said Dr. Pilarz. “This research focuses on a key aspect of working conditions—work schedules—to look at who works nonstandard and irregular work schedules as well as how and why mothers’ work schedules contribute to child and family wellbeing. By addressing these questions, we can learn how to better support working families to improve their health and development over the life course.”

This is a career development award from NICHD designed to help faculty become independent researchers who will be competitive for substantial grants in the future. It supports three to five years of mentored research training experience in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences.

Alejandra Ros Pilarz’s ongoing research broadly examines how parental employment, child care, and early education experiences contribute to children’s development and family wellbeing.