Beki Grinter

Women Scientists

In academia, academic management, women on August 8, 2011 at 9:11 am

The New York Times had an article, actually a discussion among four female scientists about their careers in Science and what it took. They discuss a range of issues, not always agreeing, on how you balance a life in Science with a life outside of Science, career advice they would give their children, the need for Institutional support to help women manage their careers, and so forth. It’s a good read. It’s also just good to see more examples.

What we need is more examples. I’ll do my best to set an example, and I am lucky to have colleagues who are senior to me and who I can draw on. But, just as their is not one career path for men, surely there is more than one for women also. Examples are helpful in sorting out what you think is right for you and what less so. More examples might also open up conversations about how differing biographies shape life choices, I might relate more to some than others. So, thank you to these women and all the others, they are examples. Its just I think we could use some more.

Oh and I can’t help wondering whether one of them is Female Science Professor.

  1. I find that article pretty depressing (along with a recent article in the Cornell magazine touting the family-friendliness of professorhood because you have the flexibility to work through the night instead of in the evening). This vision of what it takes to be a scientist, the idea that you have to be made of “titanium,” you have to travel constantly to promote your work, and that you’ll be up all night working so you can ‘balance’ your work with your family life (because ‘balance’ is achieved even if you never sleep!) is in my opinion perpetuating exactly the kind of moral order around what it means to be a ‘good scientist’ that make it difficult for women (and other people who want to have sane lives) to succeed in science. I know that in medical research the climate is different, but in my experience you can make choices in your career that support a sane life by being more savvy about what you do and where you make an impact. You might not have “the best” career in terms e.g. of number of publications but your career can really be satisfying and you can also get enough sleep and enjoy time with your family or with your hobbies, personal life, etc. More people need to know this.

    Would I want my daughter to have my kind of life if she chose? Yes. Would I want her to have the kind of life this article seems to espouse? No way.

    • Good points… perhaps I was a bit optimistic in my post. I was excited that they were discussing their lives and proving that it could be done. But of course at what cost. I have another post about costs coming up. I had a very surreal encounter with them that I’ve been reflecting on.

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