Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Friday, December 21, 2007

More on Work/Life Balance

So continuing the discussion from my last post...Amazingly and without provocation the discussion at my departmental holiday lunch party consisted almost entirely of evaluation of the work-life balance issue and trying to get more women in STEM. (There were 3 men and 2 women at the table, all were married with kids.) It was a pleasant surprise.

One of the things that we discussed, and that also came up in some of the comments on my last post, is what do you do when you want balance and everyone around you is willing to sacrifice everything for career? I have struggled with this issue for some time, which you probably know if you have been following my posts. I love my job, but I love my family too, and I try to keep things pretty separate. So how can I compete against someone who is willing to work until 3 AM everyday to get more data, more papers, etc.?

I asked this question of our group and there was general acknowledgment that these types do exist (and that they usually end up divorced). But also there was discussion of how time away from work gives you a different perspective that these types won't necessarily have. There have been many times for me when I take a break from a difficult problem and am able to find a solution only after taking time to do something else. The clarity that comes from looking at a problem fresh really makes a difference. It is also true that many of my grad school classmates worked long hours, but were not very productive because they didn't take the time to plan and think through their experiments. Having some time away and also just the act of balancing work and family force this planning to some extent. So I guess the message that I got is that there is hope, and that we don't have to give up everything to do well, and that was reassuring.


At 7:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's good that some of your coworkers also are interested in these issues. I see that the newer males in my department are more interested as well, as they have young children and seem to be more involved than the already tenured professors appear to be with their children...but still with both of the two men, there's something completely different than that of a woman in the same family/work situation.


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