vacations

linden higgins linden at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU
Tue Mar 11 09:46:59 EST 1997


Susan Forsburg wrote:
[snip]
>
>My students and postdocs take the time they need.  It's a self-
>regulating profession;  they know if they lose too long their
>work suffers.  Mostly they tell me, "I'm taking a few days off"
>or "we're going to stay over after the meeting", or yes, "I'm
>getting married next summer."  Operative word here being "tell".
>I tell THEM to have a good time, and come back rested,
>recharged,  and rarin' to go.
>
>Their PI, on the other hand, just returned after 5 days away,
>her first vacation in 3 years.
>

Sigh.  This is not a spam, but just another point of view. It just seems
that all this talk of long hours & intense work has lost sight of one of
the (often) main complaints of women in the scientific community:
family-unfriendly expectations.

 After years of working late & weekends (yes, I have data from Christmas
day from just about every year of my dissertation research), I've decided
to do things differently.  I still love science, but I have an 8 mo old
daughter, (yet again) a new course to teach (temporary instructors don't
get to pick & choose), and chronic sleep deprivation.  I can't bring myself
to brush off my teaching responsibilities, I can't bring myself, after
having Gailin in day care all day every day during the week, to leave her
with a sitter on weekends, and I MUST pick her up by 5:30 pm in the
afternoon.  So, now I work 40 hr weeks. Does all this make me a lesser
scientist? - I think not!  I just have different priorities.  And the
adjustment has been very difficult:  I often lay awake with anxiety attacks
after the 1 am feeding (and yes, we have tried to break her of this one -
she is honestly hungry), wondering if I'll ever be considered for another
job if I don't get another publication out this year.

So instead of traveling this spring break, I'm writing.  (no bench work -
last time I tried, I spaced out and missed stopping a reaction -- just too
sleepy)

But I think that we must remember that there are other things of value in
life (spouses, children, gardens, pets, sports).  My father worked 50-70 hr
weeks all the time I was growing up (in academics).  Now, approaching
retirement, he admits that he wishes he had known us better as children.
How many of us may look back as we approach 70 and wonder about our
choices?  We must make choices, obviously (my garden is a mass of
dandelions this spring), but we need to recognize that having something in
life besides the science does not make us lesser scientists!  And maybe we
will eventually alter the mentality that says that only people who work on
weekends, blow off their teaching responsibilities, hire sitters to raise
their children (or marry stay-at-home spouses) are good researchers.  I
would like to point out that one of the past presidents of the Ecological
Soc. of America went to 1/2 time when she had children (as did her academic
spouse), and "came back" to become nationally recognized.  It can be done!

Linden (sleepily)












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