Germany and two bodies

S L Forsburg forsburg at
Mon Oct 13 10:12:59 EST 1997

> From: becker at (Sylvia Becker)
>...... (stuff deleted)....working if you NEED THE MONEY is
> accepted.
> Working because you want to PURSUE A CAREER is bloody selfish of a
> mother!
> At least that's the message one seems to get. ........
> Also, the means taken to help families with the "extended two body
> problem",
> i.e. deal with child care and try and allow the spouse to find a job
> in the
> same area are zilch! It seems to be better in industry but in the
> universities things are dire! In my particular case, I am expected to
> work
> somewhere else if I want more funding through the major grant giving
> body,
> they specifically said that they won't fund me any longer if I stay in
> Munich - despite raving referee reports concerning the scientific
> aspects of
> my proposals. My husband has a permanent job at the university in
> Munich
> and we have two small children. No way can I move and work somewhere
> else
> (on a two year job soft money basis). 

This I found very sounds like they want Sylvia to
some strange bureaucratic requirement regardless of her work or
potential where she is.  How petty.  How unnecessary.  How
wasteful of bright, accomplished women, and how disrespectful of
their families.

I found this whole post very depressing.  Yes, things in the US
are better--but sometimes I think that the whole problem has
just moved underground and gotten more subtle, covered up by
other excuses.  For example, while women may be hired at 
improved rates, how does their rate of retention compare to 
men---ie, how many of them are promoted?  I recall hearing
about a university where they were very proud of having a tenure
time-out for women (or men) who wanted to take a year off with
their families.  Of course, no one who had taken the time-
out had ever been promoted, but it was there!

As for the two body problem, in the States, an interviewer
is not allowed to ask about marital status.  Sometimes, this
is a problem--for example, if you are interviewing at a place
that is family-friendly, they want to let you know that as
a recruitment plus.  But if you aren't interested, they don't 
want to waste their time telling you about it.
So, they try to figure out what rings you wear, or asking
"I don't know whether you are interested about schools...."
Of course this can also be done to "cover up" the illegal 

The worst example I went through when I was interviewing about 
5 years ago was a woman dean at a major 
Midwest university who started to complain to me about how
hard it was for the university to recruit married couples.  
She said something like, "I hope you aren't married.  It makes
it so difficult for us to try to hire people who are married!"

Well, as it happens, I was single, but the comment annoyed me.
I think its harder for the married couple than for the University.
And, I was looking for the job--I was hardly
going to take her to task!  Ironically she was married herself...

Sylvia also wrote
> ....If I succeed in my efforts I will be the first
> woman
> at this faculty to get the degree called Habilitation which you need
> in
> Germany to become a professor....

An accomplishment!  We wish you luck, and
will look forward to hearing of your success! 

DON'T REPLY to the email address in header.
It's an anti-spam.  Use the one below.
S L Forsburg, PhD  forsburg at
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab          
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA
"These are my opinions.  I don't have  
time to speak for anyone else."

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