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p32 incident/clarification

J. Johnson siddo at u.washington.edu
Thu Oct 24 12:51:27 EST 1996

Although there is seemingly a fine line between advice and being told not
to have childeren (for example), advice is usually solicited.  From
specific cases of women in science who have been told strongly not to have
kids, the advisors were not asked whether it was a good idea.  It was more
or less an unsolicited "If you want to work here, don't even think about
having children."  I think the attitude is wrong and that science can be
done with kids in the family.  I work in an industry job where there are
people with childern - good science is accomplished, the abuse is not
there and it is not frowned upon.  

In academics, where has the system gone
wrong?  Having children does not make you less of a scientist, less
dedicated, less serious about you work - it has been construed by the
academic system that his is what happens.  All I am saying, is it needs to
be rectified and complacency perpetuates the problem.

Ans yes, you are right, women's and PI's careers will suffer in the
interim..  What is right and wrong is a personal and ethical consideration. 
However, the issue of abuse is a legal issue, not one of scientific
custom that should be tolerated out of fear of retribution. 

On 23 Oct 1996 JFRUGOLI at BIO.TAMU.EDU wrote:

> Jenn writes:
> *********************************************************************
> (snip) I
> really think it is ripe time to educate students and others in the
> sciences that the abuses that are tolerated should not be.  First and
> foremost, they are illegal:  to tell students that they should not get
> pregnant, married, or continue carrying a child (amongst other things) 
> is
> a breach of basic civil rights and the right to privacy.  There is no
> excuse to condone such behavior is saying "well, that's the way it is in
> science" or that people "serious about science" are tough enough to get
> through it.  It is a copout to stand by and say nothing when these 
> abuses
> are rampant throughout the academic sciences.  One  goal of the future 
> for
> scientists should be no tolerance for abuse - it must change, no matter
> how difficult it will be.  People who are "serious about science" should
> do all they can to bring it out of the disgusting pit that it has 
> become;
> realize what is right and wrong at a human level and confront the 
> issues.
> **********************************************************************
> Wonderful, strong words, but at the risk of sounding cynical, just HOW 
> does one start?  Do I tell my PI I don't appreciate his/her advice? 
> After all-in most cases, it's not a flat out "prohibition" but rather 
> couched in terms of "mentoring advice".  Where does one draw the line 
> between helpful advice and downright meddling? In science, where the 
> letter of reccommendation is almost EVERYTHING, keeping quiet when you 
> disagree can save your career, so I'd have to be awful sure that the PI 
> was abusing and not just being overly "helpful with advice".
>   After all, it's a human tendency to want our trainees to be "like us", 
> and so we tend to try and mould people in our image.  It takes a certain 
> maturity (which not all PIs have!) to back off and say "This person is 
> approaching life differently than I did, but that's OK".
> My point "realizing what is right and wrong at a human level" may not be 
> a simple as Jenn makes it sound.

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