Would part-time science help?

Pita Enriquez Harris enriquez at immsvr.jr2.ox.ac.uk
Thu Nov 23 10:21:36 EST 1995

I am assuming that for THIS audience, there is little need to list the 
problems which can be experienced by women in science, especially those 
who have children.

I'd like therefore to address just one issue in particular: the (perhaps 
male-oriented?) workaholic culture of most fields of science. We all know 
that this is not so much, the number of hours real work done but rather, 
the number of hours perceived to be spent 'in the lab'; the hanging 
around (and the networking which this facilitates); the "I live in the Lab, 
Me!" idealogy which, when it comes down to it, is almost impossible for anyone 
with children to accomodate.

The question I would like to throw open to debate is: would it help if 
part-time work could be introduced as a serious option for women (or even 
men) with young children who would prefer not to see their children 
_only_ at the beginning and end of the day?                            

Would a possible consequence of this be an intensification of the 
'pink-collar ghetto', where female post-docs and grad students would do a 
great deal of leg work without being given the real scientific control?

As I see it, people either put up with the system as it is and basically, 
very few women succeed in making it beyond the 'eternal post-doc' stage 
(these women almost inevitably being the ones who decide not to have 
children or at least to wait until the eleventh hour) or else, we 
pressure granting agencies to cater for working mothers with young 
children with some special form of grants.

I have no personal agenda; this is merely a subject which, as a working 
mother, interests me.  I would be very interested to hear what women from 
all around the world, from as many different fields as possible, think 
about this.

If this is something that has been debated on this group before, please 
forgive me!  I am cross-posting this to the Oxford Assoctiation of Women 
in Science and Engineering with the hopes of bringing some of them over 
to read this group.


Dr. Pita Enriquez Harris             "Ou est le singe? Le singe est dans
Nuffield Department of Medicine               l'arbre."
Oxford Radcliffe Hospital                         Eddie Izzard

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