February 17, 2010

Academia and Motherhood - Why the two are not mutually exclusive.

A blog I frequent had a link to an article titled "The Academic-Motherhood Handicap". It outlined practices and expectations that are out in the open, but seldom internalized by women pursuing a science career in academia. The requirements to gain tenure are immense, so it makes sense that the dedication in its pursuit must be intense. Departments value those who put in long office hours, rake in large grants, publish umpteen journal articles, and push out numerous graduate students. But the time required to achieve these feats has to come from somewhere, and often that is one's social or family life. 

Imagine the difficulty then in being a woman in science, who wants to have a family and knows the biological clock is waning, but who also knows that the decision to get pregnant could (and probably will) hinder or derail her career. To spend almost 20 years in school to obtain a Ph.D. diploma, only to be sequestered as an adjunct faculty member -- forever underpaid and under-appreciated for the degree you hold. I know this is a fate that awaits many women in science because for every successful man receiving an award for his outstanding achievements, stands a woman who gave up her career to raise the children and manage the home.

For the full article, click here.