I’m done with my study section duties… and in my hotel room…. doing something useful, reading the newspaper. And what should I come upon – but this article in the New York Times today- entitled ‘Gains, and Drawbacks for Female Professors’ by Kate Zernike. In the article the gains in gender equity among faculty at MIT after a decade of intensive effort on the part of the university, set into motion after female professors there did such things as crawl around on the floor measuring out lab spaces of men and women documenting the lesser resources provided to women faculty, are described.
I’m alternately delighted and pissed off at what is described in the article. On the one hand I’m delighted that policies set in motion to level the playing field for women in science at MIT have paid off so nicely. I mean this is a good thing, right:
“An array of prizes and professional accolades among female professors has provided a powerful rebuttal to critics who suggested after the earlier report that women simply lacked the aptitude for science — most infamously, Lawrence H. Summers, whose remarks set off his downfall as the president of Harvard.”
I mean we all knew that women had the same aptitude as men do for these subjects- and that women were excluded by systematic, and “subtle and pervasive” ways. This correction is right.
I’m pissed off though- I mean:
“But with the emphasis on eliminating bias, women now say the assumption when they win important prizes or positions is that they did so because of their gender. Professors say that female undergraduates ask them how to answer male classmates who tell them they got into M.I.T. only because of affirmative action.”
Really- is this where we are now? I’ve got a great answer for that- Boys- since the dawn of time blatant favoritism has been practiced to your benefit. In fact it has been practiced to such an extent that us girls had to be BETTER than you academically… and then most of the time we were still ignored. To think anything else is just ignorant of the facts. Now, at least, the playing field is somewhat level, and now us with the double XX chromosomes just have to be equal.
And here is the second thing that irritates me about this article:
“While women on the tenure track 12 years ago feared that having a child would derail their careers, today’s generous policies have made families the norm: the university provides a yearlong pause in the tenure clock, and everyone gets a term-long leave after the arrival of a child. There is day care on campus and subsidies for child care while traveling on business.”
Wonderful that things have changed at MIT. I’m beside myself to see that this is possible. I don’t, however, want anyone to have the impression that because so much headway has been made in these areas at MIT, that means we no longer have a problem with these issues in academia in general. It is WONDERFUL that everyone gets a term-long leave at MIT after a child is born- but at many U.S. universities- there is NO PAID MATERNITY LEAVE. While there may be day care on campus in some places, this is patchy at best and non-existent at worst. And, that last part has my mouth hanging open- subsidies for child care while traveling on business!!! Seriously, that’s awesome but I have never ever ever seen this kind of help. For someone who traveled 12,000 miles in January DrMrA and I could surely use that. I’ve no idea who even to request… or demand… this from….
“Yet now women say they are uneasy with the frequent invitations to appear on campus panels to discuss their work-life balance. In interviews for the study, they expressed frustration that parenthood remained a women’s issue, rather than a family one.
As Professor Sive said, “Men are not expected to discuss how much sleep they get or what they give their kids for breakfast.”
Administrators say some men use family leave to do outside work, instead of to be their children’s primary care giver — creating more professional inequity. “”
Yes. Quite. Work-life balance is a family issue. Until it is seen as a family issue, until care of children is seen as a family issue… I fear we are stuck where we are. Men have families as well and let’s hear what they have to say. Men have families, let’s see them take an equal share of parental leave.