Child care in the scientific workpalce

Paula J. Schlax pschlax at bates.edu
Wed Mar 8 13:30:19 EST 2000


Sandra-

I really apreciated your posting. I think it raises some very important concerns
for men and women. However, I found part of your posting unsettling:

" I would gladly return to full time
work if I could drop my child off, visit at lunchtime for a feed and work
till 6-7pm if I needed to......"

Perhaps I find it unsettling because I feel I can do a good job at work and do a
good job as a parent and leave work at 5 pm, and I think that your post implies
that you don't think that this is possible.   I do class prep work at home,
after my children go to bed, and have to leave by 5 most days to make sure I
have time to see my children.  (I have ~ 3-4 hours in the evening with them-
less than I'd like)

People in the department seem to recognize that I  get some work done at home
(although it isn't lab work).  I feel fortunate that they are supportive. A
senior faculty member I know leaves even earlier than I do most days because his
children are older and have extracurricular activities. He is an incredibly
successful person, as a teacher, scientist and a parent (at least from my
viewpoint).

In general however, there is a tendency for meetings to start at 4:30 or 5, and
run late- and on those days I have to let my husband feed the kids and pick them
up.  It hasn't been a huge problem yet. The problems I have are holidays that
the academic world ignores but daycare and schools observe (like President's day
or Memorial day)- and Bates often provides onsite daycare for those days.....

On site daycare would be wonderful, in principle, but realistically, there are
some major, and expensive liability issues for companies/schools that do this. I
recognize this. I'd rather see daycare centers than fitness centers.

My final statement: When I decided to have children, I knew that I would have to
miss work some of the time when my children were sick, and that I might not work
as many hours at the bench anymore- and that these factors could influence my
promotability, or my
ability to receive tenure in an academic position- but I do not thik that my
male friends  who have children (or my spouse) felt any differnetly than I did
(in general). I am becoming more confident, as my children get older, that the
effects on my career may have been less than I expected, although perhaps things
were slowed down some... Noone really knows how different their own life will be
once they have a child- and the changes are all greater than expected- but I
strongly believe that life is a series of choices, and requires us to balance
our priorities- I think it is naive to believe one can work 70-80 hours a week,
every week,  and be an excellent parent, but that is because I know I couldn't
do it.

Paula






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