Children

Irene Anne Eckstrand IAE at CU.NIH.GOV
Tue Oct 27 09:23:03 EST 1992


I am reading the discussion about women, science, and families
with interest because I dealt with these same issues several
years ago and believe strongly that there has to be a better way.
My observations are somewhat disjointed (if they were more
organized, I would have written a book).

First, my husband and I are in different areas of science and when
we completed our postdocs, we could not find jobs in the same
area.  This, plus our interest in having a family, pushed us into
looking into alternative careers.  We both landed jobs in
science administration - and I must say that after 11 years, I
still find the job rewarding and satisfying.  We decided to take
the plunge and have one child - except that I had twins.

I must say that I never felt that I HAD to have children to make
my life complete, and if I had not had children, I would
still have a rich and rewarding life.  However, now that
I have them (three, in all), I find that they enrich my
life far more than I ever imagined.  My life is broader,
more flexible, more joyful, and more interesting than if
I had focused my attention solely on my career.

BUT it is a daily trauma to balance the demands of work,
my expectations of my career, and the needs of my kids.
I am fortunate to have a committed husband who participates
fully in child care, house care, and all the rest.  For
both of us, careers have moved more slowly and we have had
to give up some time and activities that were quite precious
before we had children.

Some of these problems are inevitable (a scientist who has
a family has less time to give science than a scientist with no
other obligations);  some could be resolved by more institutional
flexibility in hiring, tenure, time-keeping,... practices.
Some test much more fundamental issues of what we really want
from life.  I personally think that a feminist point of view
allows women to achieve without buying into the traditionally
white male definition of success.  And I think we will
move in this direction when women who have elected to do
what is right for them are in positions to affect policy and set
examples for the rest of us.

There's a lot more to be said...but I have to get to work!

irene eckstrand
iae at cu.nih.gov




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