This article explores the tensions between migration, career progression and parental responsibility in the EU. It considers how female scientists, whose career progression is so often contingent on their obtaining international experience, negotiate their work and family life in a ‘foreign' Member State. Focusing on the specific issue of child care, the paper illustrates the limitations of EU equality initiatives in enabling women to effectively balance the demands of full-time scientific research with their domestic responsibilities. A widespread lack of accessible and affordable child care across the Member States, coupled with the common dislocation from informal support networks that inevitably occurs as a result of migration, means that women are, more often than not, unable to fully enjoy the benefits of both professional and domestic life simultaneously. Rather, they are faced with the unenviable choice between giving up or reducing the amount they work, delaying motherhood or giving up the opportunity to migrate altogether. This raises important concerns not only for women themselves, whose dilemma remains unresolved by the extensive body of EU law and policy in this area, but for the scientific sector which has yet to find an appropriate strategy to curb the relentless leak of female talent.