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Ontario Tech researcher speaks about the impact of infertility on women’s careers

Dr. Serena Sohrab says infertility could impact women’s day-to-day work experience, with high potential for long-term impact on their careers


With growing competition in the job market, the early years of career-building can involve longer work hours, more time spent traveling for work, and getting more education. For women, this time often overlaps with the prime years of childbearing.

A management researcher at Ontario Tech University says there is ample evidence that pursuing motherhood ambitions early in one’s career can have long-term impact on her professional progress, and as a result a growing number of women delay motherhood until their careers are well-established.

“It’s the inconvenient truth that women’s fertility sharply declines after the age of 35,” says Dr. Serena Sohrab, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Business and Information Technology at Ontario Tech, whose interdisciplinary research examines the intersection of infertility and women’s careers. “For those women who want children, their likelihood of needing fertility treatments increases with age. Yet the success rate decreases, often resulting in lengthy treatments that can have substantial physical and psychological impact on the women under treatment.”

Categorized as a disability by the World Health Organization, infertility is an all-encompassing experience that impacts the daily life of women, including their work experience and careers.

Yet, due to the taboo nature of infertility, women rarely share their infertility at work and go through this difficult journey with no support at work,” says Dr. Sohrab.

In November 2020, the Harvard Business Review Digital published a paper (Employers: It’s Time to Talk About Infertility) co-authored by Ontario Tech’s Dr. Sohrab and University of Waterloo researcher Dr. Nada Basir. The findings have generated substantial attention. Dr. Sohrab recently shared the research on the cost of postponed motherhood during an IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility) Seminar hosted by the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto.

“Issues related to delayed family planning around the world are understudied, which is rather surprising given that women in their 40s are now the only age group with a rising pregnancy rate,” says Dr. Sohrab. “In Canada, one in six couples seek infertility treatments. Patients who go through the process for more than a year are dealing with a chronic illness. Yet, they don’t receive support from their employer through the process. That’s why Dr. Basir and I are looking to advance the discussion.”

Following the success of her IDEA Seminar presentation, on Thursday, March 11, Dr. Sohrab will speak at the Grand Round session of the UHN Medical Oncology & Hematology and the Radiation Oncology divisions.  

Media contact

Bryan Oliver
Communications and Marketing
Ontario Tech University
289.928.3653 (mobile)