men and wives

Warren Gallin wgallin at
Wed Feb 27 03:59:34 EST 2002

patricia bowne wrote:
> What needs to be done is for MEN to rebel against the 80-hour work week.
> As long as males are available to serve at them employer's pleasure, of
> course they will achieve more than women who are not willing to do this.
> However, many men (and some women) may feel that they want the rewards
> of working long hours, and they will fuel the 'race to the bottom'. So
> what's really needed is for the AAAS to get involved in a drive for a
> 40-hour work week for scientists. We need a union. (Well, you
> researchers do -- I'm in the small college teaching business, which is
> where you go if you want a life :-)  )

Two things,

	1) I don't think that working long hours and sacrificing other
interests to doing research is a particularly gender-specific behavior.

	2) Some people love doing the day and night work, and would be most
unhappy if they were forced to leave the lab after 40 hours of work each
week.  They are working 80 hours a week because they are consumed by
their work, not because their employer is requiring it of them.  So from
their point of view this is not a "race to the bottom", it is an
opportunity to what they want, as much as they want.

	The problem, for which I do not think there is a solution, is that many
people want to be able to do research in a less intensive way than other
people.  Given the current system for distributing funding, promotions
and other rewards, which are in fact not so much rewards as necessities
if you want to do research, people who put in more hours and effort will
tend to have more of the tangible products of research (papers,
presentations and patents) than those who work less time, and therefore
will tend to have better support for their research.

	I don't see this as inherently unfair, in the sense that if you can
produce more output in less time than someone else you will (should?)
get more rewards.

	However, if the sources of funding become so depleted that the only way
to get funding is to have the output of an excellent 80 hour a week
researcher, then the research system will lose out on a lot of good
people and their good results.

	That being said, the extent to which many of the current systems for
advancement and funding support lose track of the goal of supporting the
best research and instead use performance indicators like number of
papers  hours worked that only poorly represent underlying research
quality, is breathtakingly discouraging.  I think that poor decision
making is the big problem, not the range of work hours.  Trying to
shoehorn everyone into the same model for doing research by mandating a
set 40 hours per week would be no better, or fairer, than mandating that
everyone has to spend 80 hours per week in the lab, no matter what they
actually produce.

Warren Gallin
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