Someone’s got to have the babies…

.. and it turns out, it’s the women.. hmmm..

This is by no means a new problem — the impression that if a woman has a child, she’ll be somehow less productive at work because she’s no longer “dedicated” to her work.

I know a brilliant and gifted academic woman who literally hid the birth of a child from her grad school faculty.  She already had a child and she got the message loud and clear that having children, especially more than one, indicates less of a dedication to her studies.

By now y’all can insert most of my feminist / patriarchy rants here… I won’t bother, I had a late night last night — BUT.. it supremely disgusts me when such clear evidence of gender discrimination exists in academia, the place where folks are supposed to understand such things.

Academic careers are ideal for working moms.  There is a level of flexibility that’s rare — if a female academic needs to leave campus for a few hours for any reason, she can usually make that happen.  Much academic work is independent, so a mom can get a lot done when the kids are sleeping or otherwise occupied.

I found the discussion of the “two body” problem hitting too close to home.  My ex went to grad school, then law school.  We did two periods of our 21 year relationship in which we lived separate… when we started seeing one another he lived in another state.  For three years he taught in one state while I taught in another — BUT, I wouldn’t have done that if we had kids.

The trouble is, with academic careers, the jobs are scarce and if you want one you often have to move.  If one person is established in a location — for example, to support their spouse during grad school — then, at the end of grad school the family must decide whether or not to move to the location of the academic job.

The article outlines how women often choose to move with their husbands, or choose not to move because their husband has a good job where they are.  As the time got closer and closer to a decision to make a permanent move, I decided the ex wasn’t worth leaving a tenured job I love… that wasn’t the only reason for the split, but it was a factor.  After our three years apart, I knew that wasn’t an option, and I knew him well enough to know that he wouldn’t stay for what he considered my sub-par job… he already made the decision to go elsewhere for work for a limited-term job, so a permanent job was a no-brainer.

I suppose I should be thankful for that — I ended up with a partner who is fully supportive of my job… so — there’s that.


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June 17, 2013 · 11:12 am

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