Would part-time science help?

Helen Hansma hhansma at physics.ucsb.edu
Sun Dec 3 17:07:29 EST 1995

As a mother of 2 older teenagers, I can say that part-time work 
is important for one's sanity.  I was P.I. of an NSF grant when 
my son was young.  I didn't publish enough to get the grant 
renewed - I was working in a sort of vacuum, partly by choice, 
and partly because of my geographical constraints.  The grant 
ended about when I got pregnant with my daughter, who is 4 yrs 
younger than my son.  

After several months of worrying about what I was going to do 
with my life, I had an opportunity to get involved in science 
teaching at my childrens' school, which kept me usefully 
employed part time for almost a decade.  Then husband needed a 
biologist because he wanted to do biological imaging with the 
atomic force microscope, and for the past 7 years I've been 
happily employed part time, currently as a P.I. and associate 
research biologist with many opportunities to speak around the 
U.S. and elsewhere in the world and several very part time 
employees, some of whom are quite talented.  

My story is atypical, and I don't see any easy paths for women, 
but I have been happy to find that work of various types (I 
left out yoga teaching and a few other projects) have appeared 
without moving to a new city or leaving my family.  I like 
Catherine Bateson's "Composing a Life," that says we don't 
really have one-pointed lives like an arrow shot from a bow, 
but instead our lives go in many different directions.

Good luck to all of you who are making these difficult choices 
and decisions.

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