Would part-time science help?

jcoleman at msvax.mssm.edu jcoleman at msvax.mssm.edu
Thu Nov 30 12:37:13 EST 1995

In article <Pine.3.89.9511270848.A29514-0100000 at gold.tc.umn.edu>, jone0077 at GOLD.TC.UMN.EDU (Karen C Jones) writes:
>I don't have any answers to your questions.  I can only tell you of my 
>experience.  I am 49 years old, a wife and mother, and in my 9th year of 
>graduate school.  I do not subscribe to the Male Model of graduate school 
>which requires 24 hour obsession with one's work.  I have a life.  I am 
>continually asked my my adviser and committee members if I am a 
>"part-time" graduate student. I insist that I am full time.  But I feel I 
>am not taken seriously.  I am seen as "not committed" and a dilettante.  
>How can I succeed in male-dominated science without subcribing to the 
>Male Model of graduate school?
I think (my own opinion) that there are several factors to your current
reputation that have little to do with the Male-Model of grad school...in my
program at least 9 years of grad school would be "pushing" it by any grad
student....most programs have a limited period of time in which you MUST
finish. Most of us here finish between 4 to 6 years, male OR female. I think
many programs require finishing in under 8 years (correct me if I am wrong
people) ...perhaps also what you are facing is an age bias as well...which i
think sometimes plays a role as well. I think what we are looking at in this
discussion is not a question of male vs. female but a question of time spent in
the lab....or if you like lab vs. life..... since traditionally women are the
primary caregiver for children and therefore have less time in the
lab...therefore grad school has a bias against females? I propose that
regardless of your gender, if you put your family first most of the time...you
will have a hard time in science. If depends on what you mean by "having a
life"...how much time spent in lab per day, per week? How much time can we
reasonably expect to have at home and still be successful?
I wonder about this as well...I am a married graduate student but don't have
children...I wonder where will I fit that in my life. I think having a good
balance of care-giving responsibilities between husband and wife is essential
...I also think Day Care at your university would be a BIG benefit if you have
small children...then you can take a longer lunch or the one hour or so while
DNA is digesting etc to visit with your child. If your children are
older....they are in school for a good part of the day....I think compared to
many other professions science is good for working women...because we can make
our own schedules...we are more flexible...You can work from 6 am to 3 pm and
then go pick up the kids after school (say if your husband gets them ready for
school before he goes to work at 9am) I have to say that in all my time in
college and in grad school, I have NEVER been made to feel that science was a
male-dominated/female prejudiced field....I have spent time in chemical
engineering department, in neuroscience departments....and never had a problem
..also felt encouraged...in fact in my grad school class there are more women
than men....in my particular year of grad school in my department, we have 4
women and 2 men. I personally am insulted that total committment to your career
is regarded as a "male" trait and that having life and lab is "female" trait...
I think that is a self-defeating attitude....science takes a high level of
committment...the work has to be done, and done in a timely fashion or else
you'll be "scouped" by a more committed lab....if you want to do the
work...then you have to put in the time, painful or not.


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