A big part of the "problem" is that when you have a child, your academic
life needs to be put on hold for a time and rightfully so. Beyond that the need
to take care of the child even after you can go back to work is significant and
takes emotional and physical capital. These directly impact a female professors
ability to publish. You can't just stop publishing for a year or two and
then just pick it up like you do a brush or pencil that you've laid around.
Publishing takes years of momentum work behind it and a two year hiatus leaves
you out of the loop. Since it takes so long to get to full professor (8 or more
years of undergraduate and graduate work, + 7 years to get to Associate + 4 more
years to get to Full professor) then the system essentially asks women to wait
until they are lets see 18 + 8 + 7 + 4 = 37 years old before they can pursue a
family at the least. Either that or do it much much slower which is what most
of them do and they pay reflects that.
It is tough to be in two places at once, no matter what field you are in. It is
not surprising that women without children make more than women with children.
Unfortunately, there is always a tradeoff and opportunity cost with whatever
path we take and this will always be the case.
Gender pay inequality in the workplace is a well established fact. This article
is spot on in assigning a large portion of the cause of that inequality on the
fact that women often must split time between family responsibilities and work
responsibilities--and that the inequality is usually not caused by
discrimination.Gender pay inequality is a legitimate issue for women
who are in the workplace out of necessity, and I think it needs to be seriously
addressed. But I still don't like that gender pay inequality is frequently
highlighted as issue that needs to be resolved. It is a natural consequence of
women prioritizing family responsibilities above work responsibilities. I think
that highlighting gender pay inequality will only lead to a change in that
priority in women.The trend of women de-prioritizing their
contributions at home is a much bigger issue then gender pay inequality.
Some of the comments seem to assume that women get to make a choice about
whether to stay home or have a career. I am a tenured full professor at a large
university. I went to work because I was widowed and needed to support my
family. I would have much rather stayed home and been a full-time mother and
have their father support us. Having both responsibilities has been very hard.
Most women who work full-time do so because they have to feed their children.
It is often a necessity not a choice. I am fortunate to work in a very family
supportive environment, but I've heard some very sad stories from single
mothers who have not only received little support but considerable
discrimination. Our children need the income and opportunities that go with it
just as much as children who have a father in the home - perhaps even more so.
Gender pay inequality will no doubt lessen when caring for home and children
gets the kind of respect in action that it gets verbally on Mother's Day.
Although many fathers today do this work, they don't get the respect for it
they deserve, either, and often are even better at it, but it needs recognition
in the workforce, as was stated, in family-friendly policies for both fathers
A question I would ask the female professors who have raised children is, Was it
worth it to have children, despite the burden it created for your academic
career? I would hope that most of them would say Yes. Your academic colleagues
are not going to look after you when you are old and physically impaired. And
the opportunity to turn a baby into a child and then an adult is an investment
that can be more rewarding than any professional achievement. A child who loves
you, and even grandchildren who want to be with you, validates your life on
earth as much as any professional accolade. The fact that people who are not
academically gifted can also receive that validation does not make it any less
vital to your own happiness.
coltakashi, while I enjoyed being a mom more than I can say, I can also say
this: it is not a popularity contest, nor do the children come with guarantees
of future caretaking contracts attached and signed. They may or may not care for
parents in their old, ancient years...and they may not be able, willing, or even
on good terms with them--these are, after all, separate individuals we are
discussing. They may have passed away. The parents may choose not to have them
do it. Don't go assuming the reason to have children is some magical
fulfillment of either the mother, or a supposed contract on the part of those
offspring towards the parents. We who choose to have children need to understand
that it has to be without expectation of reimbursement on their parts. All we
can do is love them, enjoy them, teach them, and swear that even if they look
like Quasimodo, they are the best-looking kids this ol' world has ever
seen. But they do not owe it to us to care for us in our old age, dote on us, or
have grandchildren for us.
Is the juice worth the squeezes. That depends on you. What is your priority.
They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting
something different. If your in dept are you going to listen to the same person
that put you there. It's like in raising kids, how rude do you want them.
This is part of the myth that women can have it all. Somebody, generally the
mom, needs to stay home with the kids and although that doesn't
"pay" it's a very important job. I have a solution. That is,
graduate school after you raise the kids and tenure track for your second
career. That's what I did and it worked out just fine.
I had no idea that academic success was the ultimate goal in life. Wow. Thanks
for clarifying that for me.Look, folks, seems like everyone these
days wants to be in a protected group. The Oprah crowd screams for women to be
proud they have a uterus. Life is full of choices. Heck, just last week I was
complaining how I can't be on a cruise in the Bahamas and visiting France
at the same time. It's so unfair! I picked France. Kids
aren't pets, they're adults in training. If the decision is so hard,
don't have kids. Keep life centered on yourself and then end your family
line in one generation. It's no big deal...academia, not family, is what
matters most of all, right?
@kargirl-I get the essence of what you say, but I feel you are too
extreme. In the LDS Church, for example, the children ARE expected to help care
for aging parents if necessary, and in cases I know of, they do it happily.
Also, a bishop will ask children to care for their parents if they are in
need.Of course, there are exceptions. You focused on things which
may not happen. You didn't mention what happens when things go right. I
encourage you to think of that, and perhaps to find a little more brightness in
your life than by focusing on negative exceptions to hoped-for outcomes. Very
often, children DO volunteer to care for parents, and have planned for it.We enjoyed caring for my mother who lived with us for 15 years after
divorce; it was a joyful but sometimes difficult life. My brother took care of
my father. My family was not LDS, but seeing the truth in the doctrine of
families in the Church, we found great joy in returning the love and sacrifice
our parents unselfishly gave us. I believe there IS a contract!
I think BYU should look at ways to make the highering and employment process
more friendly to mothers on faculty. On the other hand, I can see
why a dual-higher plan guaranteeing work for a spouse is not going to be easy to
make popular, but it is clearly the best way to have more women as professors.
I agree with germanygator. Life is not fair. None of us can have it all.
Choosing requires sacrifice of options not chosen. If you view
academia as a life goal, then go after it. Sacrifice social and personal
relationships for time in the library and laboratory and revel in the publishing
of new discoveries and awards on the "I Love Me" section of the office
wall.If relationships, children for many but not all, close
associations and triumph over other trials of life with a spouse and in-laws and
all the chaos, humor, tears and what all multi-generation family brings then
focus time and energy on that.I am a bit annoyed at the whining and
sense of entitlement by those who see themselves as the elite members of the
group of carbon based life forms on the planet when they can't get their