Wednesday, August 14, 2013

#PubScience #scimom edition

Yesterday I stayed up past my normal bedtime to participate in #PubScience organized by @DrIsis and @MTomasson. We talked about being a parent in science, and you can watch the episode here and below (do it! It’s a lot of fun and an interesting conversation).

I had to leave about an hour in because BlueEyes woke up and needed some comforting. And then I fell asleep, because as I said: this was past my tired-pregnant-self bedtime. Talking about being a scimom.

What I wanted to clarify is that when I talked about one of the parents stepping back to make sure the other can excel in their job, both Dr. Isis and Dr. Rubidium said that that was a very privileged situation being able to take a step back. I agree that parents that have to work double shifts at McDonalds in order to be able to support their families probably have a way harder time than us academics do. But while there are usually people that have a harder time than others in whichever aspect of their life, for me this is still an issue in my life and therefore worth discussing. I see people around me where one of the parents decide to take a step back, taking a job where you are not expected to travel to meetings, you are not expected to work late nights to make deadlines and you don’t need to be in the lab on the weekend because your experiments require that. By doing this, they give up the dream of becoming a tenure track scientist. Even though I think doing this will increase the chances for my husband (and the other way around) neither of us is ready to do this.

Also, while we were discussing all this, on twitter some people were wondering if, after hearing all this, they were ever going to want to have babies. I have this to say about that (and I may have said this before on my blog or anywhere else): For me, having a baby was an entirely different desire than wanting to be a kick-ass scientist (preferable in academia). I know I would be very sad if I would be forced to leave science because I cannot work hard enough/publish enough papers/get enough grants, but I would have been heartbroken if I didn’t have kids. So for me it’s not kids or career, it’s kids and then see how far I can get in my career.


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  2. Thanks for staying up late with us BAM!! I had a similar reaction to the comments that were made about privilege. There is no doubt I am privileged and it has been a journey understanding just how that factors into my life and those of others.

    And also no doubt that there are many couples that both have to work two jobs and have no economic choice in the matter.

    In academia we have the privilege of having a career, not just a job and to me that means beyond long hours an open-ended job description and self-imposed unrealistic expectations. My wife and I both have jobs, but we also both have careers which we spend untold amounts of physical and mental energy on pursuing.

    Ambition requires sacrifice and not just from the person doing the striving. It takes a toll on those around you. And unlike a regular job, those sacrifices keep piling up and popping up at unexpected times. It is very disruptive to family life. I suggest to youngsters that they have frank discussions about these issues. My wife and I didn't talk about this enough and although on the surface we have been successful, the success did not come without personal costs.