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affirmative action; time off for family leave

SIMMS at vmd.cso.uiuc.edu SIMMS at vmd.cso.uiuc.edu
Wed Aug 11 16:37:43 EST 1993

Affirmative Action:
     Even with my limited experience, I've seen enough cases of bozo guys
getting hired instead of a qualified woman that I'm not at all queasy about
the idea of hiring the woman when two equally qualified people (one male and
one female) are up for a job.  The comments about role models, mentors, and
changing the status quo recently posted here were all well put.  It is
uncomfortable for those women who get hired partly just because they were
women, but if she was just as qualified as the man it would come down to
flipping a coin if those hiring were going to be totally impartial.  I
wouldn't feel terribly comfortable taking a job on the basis of a coin
toss.  At least if an equally well qualified woman is hired, there are
some good reasons to back up the decision (as mentioned before in previous
Family leave:
     This is a difficult issue since it pits those in charge (who want
high productivity) against the employees (who may want more out of their
lives than just high productivity for their boss).  It is not just an
issue of who does the child bearing and child rearing, but of whether
we all want to live in a system where _nothing_ outside of our profession
is important.  Obviously, the managerial types will tend to hire those
with no family responsibility, no hobbies, etc, who will devote themselves
exclusively to the job.  Now that hiring in academic positions has become
so competitive, it is difficult for anyone to have much of an outside life
if they want to stay on the tenure track.
     This makes it difficult for those who want to have more in their lives,
but are still devoted to doing good quality work during work hours.  There
is getting to be no place for them to go.
     On a personal note, I decided to get some of the childbearing out of the
way during grad school since I could take a leave of absence (sort of a leave,
anyway.  I'm still working.  I'm just not getting paid.) without messing
up my chances for getting tenure if I decide to go that route.  (Now I'm just
left with the child _rearing_ part of the whole thing.)
     I think this is a reasonable issue to discuss, however.  For years it
was a non-issue because most scientists had wives who did all the housework,
childbearing and rearing, etc.  Now many male scientists are discovering
that their wives are no longer willing to give up careers to further the
husband's career, so there are issues of who does the housework as well.
even if no children are involved.  The men who are still able to swing
this arrangement seem to be somewhat critical of those men who ended up
with wives working outside the home.  Those who are single or with
wives who don't have outside jobs (or have "female" jobs that just
require 9 to 5) are often not as sympathetic as they might be to the
women or men who have to leave the lab at 5 to pick up the kids, or come
in late because they had to wait for the plumber or whatever.
     Recently I read The Overworked American (can't remember the author)
which was an interesting book.  It talks about how we have given up our
free time that we might have had due to increases in efficiency in exchange
for more material things that we probably don't have time to use anyway.
(Well, that was the gist of part of the book.  There was lots more.)  I'm not
sure if that totally relates to the issue at hand, but we do seem to have
moved to a society where work is valued over everything else. Friends of
mine from
European countries often express amazement at the lack of vacation time
that we have in the U.S.  I don't know if this attitude is also common
in European scientific circles.  Perhaps someone reading this can shed
some light on this.
                                   Laura Simms

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