Saturday, March 3, 2012


I'm writing from my iPad while my husband snoozes next to me and out little girl naps on my chest, okay she's big enough now to cover my whole torso. At 14 months she is a champ in her toddler bed, but today has a very stuffy nose, and the incline of the momma-couch helps her breathe easy enough to get some sleep.

A few weeks ago we went to a potluck and a colleague's spouse asked he Scott and I manage to get Any work done, with us both being postdocs and having a young child. Well, the obvious answer is daycare. We are both able to physically go into work because we found a daycare (a small family-run on) that all three of us are happy with. But the complete answer is much more than that.

I am more efficient while I am in the lab. I don't take long breaks to chit chat with my labmates, I eat lunch at my desk while working, and I am much more focused while working, not getting distracted by all the Internet has to offer. I still find that most days I wish I had a couple more hours in the office, but I am lucky that I can work from home after baby girl goes to bed.

I wonder sometimes if it is enough though, to be successful in academia. I don't have the hours to spend staying up days at a time to work round-the -clock on a manuscript. My weekends are full of walks, and museums, and pretend games, and making sure foods aren't choking hazards. It is a family effort for me to attend a conference, even for a day. The further I move in the direction of a research scientist, the more I think how unsuitable this path is for someone with young children. And, perhaps unfairly, how unsuitable it is especially for women with young children. It certainly isn't always the case, but many studies have found that women scientists who are parents generally perform more than 50% of the household chores, meal-planning and preparation, and child-rearing in addition to their professional responsibilities. This might be because we like doing these activities, or because we prioritize differently, or because some gender roles are hard to challenge.

Whatever the reason, I think there are some fundamental changes that need to occur in academia if the field hopes to retain scientists who also choose to be parents. I'll write more when I'm at a proper keyboard.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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