The change we really need...
0 comment Monday, May 19, 2014 |
A friend just sent me this article about how women in science, as well as grad students and post-docs in general ought to be better off under the Obama administration.Lots of good things to say, but this passage crushes me:Surveying outcomes for 160,000 Ph.D. recipients across the United States, the researchers determined that 70 percent of male tenured professors were married with children, compared with only 44 percent of their tenured female colleagues. Twelve years or more after receiving their doctorates, tenured women were more than twice as likely as tenured men to be single and significantly more likely to be divorced. And lest all of this look like "personal choice," when the researchers asked 8,700 faculty members in the University of California system about family and work issues, nearly 40 percent of the women agreed with the statement, "I had fewer children than I wanted," compared with less than 20 percent of the men. The take-home message, Dr. Mason said in a telephone interview, is, "Men can have it all, but women can�t." From a purely Darwinian point of view, expecting a young woman to sacrifice her reproductive fitness for the sake of career advancement is simply too much, and yet the structure of academic research, in which one must spend one�s 20s and early 30s as a poorly compensated and minimally empowered graduate student and postdoctoral fellow, and the remainder of one�s 30s and into the low 40s working madly to earn tenure, can demand exactly that. But perhaps a glimmer of hope:Dr. Mason and other legal experts suggest that President Obama might be able to change things significantly for young women in science � and young men � by signing an executive order that would provide added family leave and parental benefits to the recipients of federal grants*, a huge pool of people that includes many research scientists.I don't know how much of a priority that is for President Obama, but it would be great to see him walk all the talk, so to speak.Get on the horn and ask him to do so! [Be warned: there's a bug on the message page that automatically sends your message when you hit the "return" key, so don't try to put any paragraphs in your message or they'll only get the first one. Hopefully, they'll get it fixed soon.]*emphasis mine...oh, and how about better pay/benefits for grad students/post-docs? Seriously, it's stupid that we're going into debt on our student "stipends". Most of us would like to be buying a house (and/or starting a family) at this stage in our lives, not taking out yet another student loan. Not sure if this is worthy/appropriate for an executive order, but it would definitely be worth lighting a fire under some NIH/NSF butts.