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Discrimination against the private life?

S L Forsburg nospamforsburg at salk.edu
Tue May 4 13:01:51 EST 1999

C. J. Fuller (cjfuller at mindspring.com)

> In article <7BEA5F16B8 at cellbio.emory.edu>, DENISE at cellbio.emory.edu wrote:
> >Well, I usually stay silent on this newsgroup, just reaping the benefits
> of the advice that
> >comes through, but I can't help myself from bringing up this question today:
> >
> >Did anyone see "Ally McBeal" last night? What did you think about the
> case against the law
> >firm who removed their female associate from the "partner track" after
> returning from
> >maternity leave because she just wasn't going to be able to "put in the hours"?

> This is BLATANT sex discrimination, similar to, "Oh, a man has a family to
> support. We'll pay him more than the single/married/whatever woman, even
> though she's much more qualified."

But I bet it happens in underground ways all the time.

An interesting article in the online SALON magazine 
(http://www.salonmagazine.com/it/feature/1999/03/24feature.html) asks
Does academic life lead to divorce? It describes how many consider that
 "to be a serious scholar one must subjugate one's personal life to the 
professional, and, at the very least, never mention that one does  have 
a personal life that might interfere with one's ability to do research 
or relocate for a job. To do  otherwise is to raise the specter of 
dilettantishness, and, for women especially, to risk   marginalization." 

We see this a lot in science, where people who suffer geographic 
constraints because of kids or partner's job, or whatever, are 
considered "less than serious" about their science.  This 
requirement that we sacrifice all for  science of course was 
not applied to our senior colleagues;  they usually have more 
mobile lives because their wives often do not have independent 
careers, whereas how many house husbands do you know?  But the fact
that OUR lives are less mobile than theirs means they demand from
us an outrageous sacrifice.

 Thinking  about this further,  this has a huge impact on the whole
of academe which is based on throwing people away.  I argue that women 
especially, but also many men, who are committed to their family or 
partner are less likely to take up an academic position that offers to 
pitch them out after 7 years.  This may have a strong effect on the leaking
pipeline.  While no one argues that assessment  should be abolished, 
we can hope that universities will impose their strongest selection
at the time of hiring, and move away from the general scheme of tossing
out the tneure track--and their  personal lives.

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S L Forsburg, PhD  forsburg at salk.edu
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab          
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA 

Women in Biology Internet Launch Page
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