publication rate/maternity leave

E. Wijsman wijsman at
Thu Jan 1 16:38:54 EST 1998

Get some advice from your NSF panel director.  It may not necessarily be a
bad thing to state that you took some leave time - it might not be
necessary to say for exactly what.  I have been a reviewer on NIH review
panels where some reviewers were commenting on the low productivity of the
PI on a proposal, where other reviewers knew that the person in question
had taken some maternity leave, and stated so.  That essentially took care
of the criticism since most reviewers look for a rate of publication over
time that one would expect publications, which excludes time on leave. 

Having one or more influential scientist stating in front of 15-20 other
such scientists that one should allow for maternity time in evaluating the
publication record does wonders.  It is very hard then for the few
hard-nosed older scientists who either had stay-at-home wives if male, or
are childless females to state publically that a female scientist who has
had children is not serious. Therefore, I am not sure it is wise, in the
long run, to try to ignore the fact that you have kids because if nobody
knows, they certainly can't factor the time off into evaluation of your
publication record.

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On 30 Dec 1997, Caroline J. Walker wrote:

> I wonder if I can get comments on the best way to handle career breaks on
> grant applications?  One of the reviewers comments on my NSF proposal
> referred to my publication rate as being "moderate to good" - which is
> probably fair.   However, I did not mention that I have taken maternity
> leave/working part time over the last 5 years to have 2 children, owing to
> advanced paranoia that this usually results in my being taken less
> seriously.  But I wonder now if I was being too cautious.  Would it have
> been better to include this information somewhere on the proposal so that
> my publications/years of research is more accurately reflected?  It seems
> that this would be a fairer way for panels to assess the productivity of
> researchers - but are panels ready to consider this sort of information?
> Has anyone had experience of how to handle this?
> Cheers,
> Caroline

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