Would part-time science help?

Marilyn Walker Marilyn.Walker at colorado.edu
Mon Nov 27 11:33:22 EST 1995

In article <Pine.ULT.3.91.951123150010.7429A-100000 at immsvr.jr2.ox.ac.uk>
Pita Enriquez Harris, enriquez at immsvr.jr2.ox.ac.uk writes:
>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.
A serious option of part-time work could be a tremendous benefit for
working parents of both sexes _if_ there were a way to make certain that
they were not expected to produce at a full-time rate. Around here, when
folks come up for promotion or annual salary evaluation, the fact that
they are working part-time is rarely considered. There is nowhere on our
self-evaluation forms to note this. I occasionally review grants from
Canada, and the grant form has a place to note extenuating circumstances
that have affected productivity. How sane.

On-site childcare, with infants to kindergarten in one place, would be
the BEST thing my university could do for its working parents. They did
just add one toddler facility, but the whole affair here is very
makeshift. People I have known who had top-notch facilities available,
where babies could go and be nursed during the day, and older children
could be visited, and where a transition to a new room did not mean
moving to another building or even location, feel really good about their

I really hope that this topic takes off, for both personal and
professional reasons. I am an academic, the mother of a 3-yr-old, my
husband is also an academic, and I have decided that another child would
possibly be the end of my job. My child did not sleep through the night
for 2.5 years, he had lots of troubles with ear infections, and was very
emotionally needy and does not handle separation well at all. We are
doing well now, he's happy and healthy and in a good preschool, but those
first years were really hard, and there were some bad performance reviews
that now have long-term consequences from not getting my full salary
increments (since raises are based on a percentage, once you fall short
you can never really catch up). 

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