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more on families, long hours

S L Forsburg notmyaddress at hotmail.com
Sat Apr 15 05:29:28 EST 2000

Linnea articulated my point much better than I did. 

> I would agree with this statement. I do not have children, but still face
> problems because I am female. I sometimes wonder if the family thing is
> emphasized in order to avoid some of the other issues, particuarly amongst
> the popular press, or by men who wish to be viewed as enlightened but don't
> really want to face their own privileges for what they are. 

Yes, I have seen this.  There is an attitude that if they "solve" the 
family issue (e.g., by giving time to stop the tenure clock for
maternity leave) they have solved everything else.  
But this is not the case.  I often think that it gives them a
reason to justify the different treatment of women.  "Oh, she's going
to have children--she can't be competitive with a man without
special privileges."

I too do not/will not have children, and I am a committed scientist 
(my students probably think I should BE committed ;-) .  
My experience in this profession is fundamentally different from 
that of the men because I'm a woman, not because I want a family.

> I will also note that it seems to be the main one that younger women dwell
> on. Not lack of credibility because they have two X chromosomes; not wage
> gaps or differing expectations for performance and behavior, but this one
> particular issue. I am not sure if this is a time of life issue or one that
> is somehow impressed upon them frequently as being important. I will add that
> most young men do not have the same concerns. Or perhaps it is simply they do
> not discuss them?

I think that younger women believe that most of the battles outside of
family are won.  I know that I did--after all, I was in a graduate class of
50% women (PhD '89), obviously we were riding the wave of equality, right?

yeah, right.  Where are those women now?

The MIT report indicated that younger women faculty felt that their
gender didn't matter.  But the experience of the few full tenured 
women professors, regardless of their family status, clearly indicated
a profound difference in how they were treated.  it has been 
observed before that a pattern of recurrent, small slights 
adds up to a large difference over time, though many of the slights 
are unconscious.   

The second reason that younger women may be so concerned about the
issue of children is that they look up the academic ranks and see 
proportionally fewer women faculty than men have families.  
Academic cience is still perceived to "cost" women more than men in 
that regard.  

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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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