Elaine Howard Ecklund of Rice University and Anne Lincoln of Southern Methodist University measured the perceptions of career, life outside work and the intersection of work and family for male scientists in physics -- a male dominated field -- and female scientists who work biology, a field with more women.
Forty-five percent of the women surveyed say they had fewer children than they would have wanted so they could pursue a scientific career, while 24 percent of men say they had fewer children then they had wanted.
"Men are harder hit by this than women," Ecklund said in a statement. "Not having as many children as they wanted has a more negative impact on their life satisfaction than it does for women."
The study found female scientists average 1.9 children, while men have an average 2.1 children.
"A higher percentage of women -- nearly 48 percent -- also report that balancing work and family has obstructed their careers," the study said. "But the researchers did not detect any significant difference between men and women in how many hours they work each week and whether they work on weekends and vacations."
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Atlanta.