In the United States, the pool of qualified postdocs has grown and postdocs have gotten longer. There's now a greater likelihood than ever that training will overlap with starting a family. The decision when and where to have children is personal and depends on many factors; there's something to be said, for example, for having your mother nearby. But in deciding where to train, postdocs should consider the whole experience of working and living, not just time spent in the lab. Add to the mix Europe's ample opportunities for professional enrichment, and the parental-leave advantages that Europe can offer postdocs are worth considering.
In yesterday's Science, there's an article about how nice it is to do a post-doc in Europe when you're a US citizen. The reason: because in Europe the rules for parental leave around birth are better than in the US. As you know, I did it the other way around: I'm from Europe but I did a post-doc in the US, where I had 2 kids. The conclusion of the Science article:
However, what this article doesn't mention at all: how do you go back to the US after your post-doc and how do you get a faculty position or other job back in the US? Can European PIs mentor you well enough on how to get a TT position in the US? Do they know what is important in that respect? Can you apply for the funding you will need in order to get a job? Do you have to pay your flights when going to interviews if it's a trans-Atlantic flight? Or does doing a post-doc in Europe mean you will have to do an additional post-doc in the US upon return in order to find a job? Or is it nice to have babies in Europe but does it put you at a disadvantage to your colleagues who stayed in the US? And is it better to find a PI who will give you paid maternity leave in the US (like my PI did!) than to go abroad for this reason? In the current competitive environment, these seem very important questions to consider, and this Science article fails to ask a single one.