Did we have it all and lose it?

Deirdre Sholto-Douglas finch at MCS.COM
Wed Aug 26 10:51:09 EST 1998

In bionet.women-in-bio mtbrown at geocities.com wrote:

: Once you have kids, you will find that the breastfeeding debate is not the
: only controversial issue with passionate devotees lined up on each side.
: There's the whole circumcision debate, which gets even more vitriolic, the
: debate about staying at home vs. working, whether to feed store-bought baby
: food or make your own, how to discipline your kids, whether your kids should
: call you by your first name or "Mom" and "Dad", whether your kids should
: learn to read before they start school, the list is endless. You can find

: You will do fine,
: whether you nurse for only 3 months or a year.

While the points you bring up are valid wrt the 'mothering' factor,
one's employer, be they academic or corporate, really doesn't care,
nor will they comment on whether or not you feed prepared or homemade
gruel to your sprogs...and most of the other items you listed are also
beyond the realm of 'career impingers' also.  Mind you, your friends,
neighbours and parents may have something to say about the way you
raise your recombinant DNA, but your employer won't.

Breastfeeding, despite LaLeche, is still an individual's choice.  I
chose to bottle-feed my daughter a) because I was given a lot of 
morphine after she was born and b) it, frankly, hurt.  Admittedly, 
I caught a lot of grief from the multitude of Earth Mothers around
me and even from the hospital nurses, but both of us survived the
trauma quite nicely.  Candidly, you'll probably do fine, as will the
kid, even if you glom on to the "dry-up pills".

The problem I see with staying in academia however, is that the 
pay simply isn't there...even at the higher, tenured, levels.  Not
when compared with private corporations.  Nor is the funding for
equipment always there.  Granted, I speak as someone who is spoiled
off my nut being employed by Big Oil Company, but the perks I received
during my academic days or, for that matter, my DOE and USDA days,
can't even *begin* to approach the ones I receive in the private

In addition, I receive considerably more accomodations for being
a mother in the corporate sector.  Today is a good case in point,
despite the fact that my normal start time is somewhere around 
7-7:30 AM, I was told to come in late today.  Why?  Well, it's the
kid's first day at school and they suggested that I should come in
late to "ensure that she's launched properly the first time out."
Having just switched to a corporate career over the summer, I confess
I was well and truly boggled at this.  After years of having to 
juggle parenting responsibilities and praying that nothing would go
wrong (while pretending that being a parent was only a minor concern
so that supervisors wouldn't believe I was less than 'serious') I
finally have found a place that acknowledges that a brain and a 
womb can co-exist.  

This lack of accomodation, however, is not limited to academia,
my daughter was born when I worked in the Financial Industry and
they wanted me back at work within weeks of her birth.  While they
gave me time off if she was ill, they did it with very poor grace 
and expected the time to be 'made up'...which, of course, caused
additional problems because how does one make up time when one 
already works a 60 hour week?  When I fled to academia, I discovered
that there was greater flexibility, to be sure, but the hours 
were the same and my pay plummented.  And when one adds in the 
additional twist of academic political machinations, one can't
be faulted for questioning their sanity at staying in a high
stress, low pay position...with or without kids to think about.

Women haven't really 'lost' anything...because, sad to say, regardless
of the venue, they've made very little progress.  The kids vs.
career question has always been a problem and while there are always
those who seem to 'have it all', they have always been the minority.
The majority of us have to make nasty trade-offs, commit career
suicide or live with the guilt of maternal inadequacy...it has 
ever been so.  If it's gotten any easier, the ease owes more to
spousal support than employer accomodation.  

Mind you, while I have the occasional twinge at leaving the Ivory
Tower it's not sufficient to cause me to return.  I'm finding
greater satisfaction away from it, I'm home a mere 15 minutes after
school lets out in the afternoon, and while I may occasionally be
called in late at night, unlike academia, I'm financially compensated
for being 'disturbed on off-hours'.  The pay is triple what I
was earning, the hours shorter and the perks unbelievable.  Call
me a corporate drone, but I now have the time and money to pursue
my research independent of deans, alumnae and funding bodies *and*
I have time to be a parent.  The Ivory Tower could never have 
given me this because it never had it to give.


| Deirdre Sholto-Douglas      | e-mail:  finch at mcs.com               |
|                             |                                      |
  *******  The only acceptable substitute for intelligence  *******
                            is silence.

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