why women leave the pipeline?

mynlieffm at vms.csd.mu.edu mynlieffm at vms.csd.mu.edu
Sun Jan 5 18:11:59 EST 1997

In article <5amlbl$npi at gap.cco.caltech.edu>, kujo at cco.caltech.edu (Karen Kustedjo) writes:
>a-schmi at uiuc.edu (aloisia schmid) writes:
>>So let's see.  People have been saying:
>>1.  academics is UNNECESSARILY difficult as a career choice.  There is an
>>old boy network that is difficult to crack and the lifestyle is not
>>compatible with wanting a life outside of work.  It is difficult to get
>>jobs and money.  
>>2.  There are inequities in the lab and in the heirarchy that are
>>sometimes very subtle but that nevertheless contribute to a different role
>>for women in science than for men.  
>>3.  That men, for a huge number of reasons are able to commit more fully
>>to their work, and this is not just true in science.  And this makes it
>>even more difficult for women to compete, in an arena that is already
>>biased against them for reasons we have mentioned before.

Ok, I will admit I haven't had time to follow this thread all the way through
but I can't stop myself from interjecting a little.  I think it is great that
more varied opportunities are being presented to scientists while still in
graduate school because there is a problem with getting academic jobs.  A lot
of discussions on this newsgroup have been great in pointing out different
options to people.  But, I guess I hope that not everyone gives up on going the
traditional academic route if that is what they really want.  I do point out to
grad students that there are no job guaranties these days for BOTH MEN AND
WOMEN.  Knowing other viable options is a necessity.  However, if a student
realy wants an academic job and they have their eyes open to the realities and
competitions they  shouldn't be totally discouraged.  I'm 35 and have 2 kids
with a tenure track position involving 50% teaching and 50% research.  I do not
work 90 hours a week.  My husband moved for my job (he's in computers and thus
movable).  I am usually home by 6:30 and rarely go in on the weekdend.  Grant
deadlines and if I get behind in lectures force me to occassionally work at
night or weekends but it is the exception not the rule.  Yes, it is true I
haven't come up for tenure yet and haven't landed the "big one" in terms of
grants.  I've managed to keep my lab running for the last 3 years and now have
an R29 that has been "specialed" (hope to hear any day).  I have had my share
of problems with the old boy net work but that is meat for a different posting. 
I really just wanted to point out to some of the younger members of the
newsgroup that it can be done.  I'll admit I'm selfish because I would like
company.   I know very few women older than me in the same type of position
with kids (although I do know quite a few my age).  In general I would say my
department is really good about treating women equally.  We have 4 female
faculty out of 17 (1 full, 2 associate and me - an assistant).  Two of those
women have been among the most succesful scientists in the department which
makes life easier for me.  However, I am the first with the more "traditional"
family.  The full professor also has one child but she came late in life,
unplanned and unexpected when she was already a full professor.  As far as it
being family unfriendly - this is not entirely true.  As long as you are not
expected by your chairman to put in 90 hours a week there are many advantages
to the academic life.  Essentially you are your own boss.  If your kid needs to
go to the dentist you take them to the dentist.  My husband doesn't have that
kind of flexibility in business.  When my kids are sick, I can stay home with
them and write on the computer, prepare lectures, catch up on reading papers
(as long as I don't have a class to teach that day).  It is not entirely rosy -
I will admit - because I don't put in the 90 hour work week I suppose I am less
competitive in my grants.  My rate of publishing could be higher.  But if I'm
not mistaken I believe I read somewhere that women publish less even when they
don't have kids.  This is something I put up with because I didn't have kids
not to spend time with them.
	One other observation I wanted to share to see if anyone has noticed
this.  I personally find that men in their 40s and 50s have the most biases
against women scientists.  Quite often these are probably unintentional and the
men would be shocked to realize they were being descriminatory (which is why
you should point it out :-) ).  However, the men in my department in their late
50s and early 60s (we have quite a number) are much more enlightened when it
comes to the problems of women with careers and families.  The faculty in our
department (including my chairman) in this age range are seeing what their
daughters are putting up with and changing their attitudes.  IMO it is
changing, it is just extremely slow.

Michelle Mynlieff

More information about the Womenbio mailing list