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creating a good climate for women

Sabine Dippel sabine at hlrz24.zam.kfa-juelich.de
Mon Jun 10 03:23:44 EST 1996


In article <Pine.A32.3.92a.960608145201.99214B-100000 at homer09.u.washington.edu>,
 Sarah Boomer <sarai at u.washington.edu> writes:
|> Along the same lines as Megan said regarding seminars at decent hours (or
|> daycare), I really feel that the entire science career track is
|> anti-family and anti-relationship because of the unwritten (or written)
|> rules about having to move so many times throughout one's career in
|> science.  I have known women (and I'm sure there are quite a few men, too)
|> who have been denied post doc fellowships because they didn't pick up and
|> move across the country (which would have been difficult because of
|> family).  In general, too, it's simply a severe marital strain (someday,
|> I'd really like to see the divorce rates among scientists - I'd bargain
|> it's pretty darn high). Is this really legal or fair to force one to have
|> to prove their ultimate dedication to science by sacrificing everything
|> and moving? I don't think so. I guess I've always looked at the scientists
|> I admired most and felt that they stayed put during their most productive
|> years (McClintock, for starters, was known best for her years at
|> Cold Spring Harbor - and this whole reclusive, productive image seems
|> rather counter to the chaos that surrounds moving and moving and more
|> moving).  What can really be done to change this structure?
|> 
|> 	Sarah
|> !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
|> Sarah Boomer				email:  sarai at u.washington.edu
|> Dept. of Microbiology			work phone:  543-3376
|> Box 357242				work FAX:  543-3376
|> University of Washington
|> Seattle, WA  98195
|> 
|> personal homepage:
|> http://weber.u.washington.edu/~sarai/GOBOOMSINK/GOBOOMSINK.html
|> !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
|> 

I wholeheartedly agree. When I started studying physics, I did not realize
that a science career means having to move around until one has reached ones
mid-thirties or early forties (if you are lucky). Even if you don't have
family, this constant moving about kills your social life (building up real
friendships just takes some time, just as does first of all finding the people
you want to have as friends), besides from being a financial factor (not to
be discarded lightly with present salaries). But at least in the physics 
community, people seem to think that you have to devote yourself to your work
so much anyway that you shouldn't miss social activities and bonds. As to the
cost of moving - you are not supposed to have more than fits into your car,
since you spend all your time in the lab, so you don't need more than a small
furnished room to sleep in and keep your few possessions. 

I was really told something like this by a post doc here, when, asked what
I was going to do when my advisor moves back to his university, which is 100
miles from here, in fall (then a new director takes over the institute for 2
years), I answered that I would stay, and go see my advisor once every two 
weeks or so, since I did not see the necessity of moving for one more year. 
He said "But moving isn't that much trouble - do you have more than a bed and
a desk?" A guest professor (and friend) came to my rescue: "But she has a 
beautiful flat here in a nice town - why should she move?" - Post-Doc: "But
you should not even be able to afford this as a graduate student!" Me: "Well,
it's very small, but it's nevertheless very nice... Besides, I have just made
friends there, why should I abandon my finally working social life?"  Guest 
prof: "You know, she actually has a _life_ and still does good physics - it's
possible..."

I know that this post-doc was trying to provoke me in a way, since I know he
is given to sarcasm, but still, at the bottom of such talk there is always some
truth. 

BTW, my advisor accepts my decision. He would prefer me to move, but he under-
stands my objections, and lets me do as I please. 

Still, there exist some people who have managed to stay in the same place for
a long time, but that was in many cases pure luck, and it did not seem to harm
their career. I have no idea what to do about this, it seems so hopeless to 
try to change the system.

My two cents,

Sabine

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| Sabine Dippel     | e-mail: s.dippel at kfa-juelich.de                | 
| HLRZ              | phone : [++49] (2461) 61-2318                  | 
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| Germany           |                                                | 
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