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posting, breaks

Karen Allendoerfer ravena at cco.caltech.edu
Sun Jun 28 13:24:05 EST 1998

In article <35945827.52B5 at ln.nimh.nih.gov>,
Bharathi Jagadeesh  <bjag at ln.nimh.nih.gov> wrote:
>Rae Nishi  (nishir at ohsu.EDU) writes
>> I use a newsreader and I think I can read
>> everyone's posts (I can certainly read Bharathi's posts, even if she
>> can't read mine). Am I just talking into empty space (probably just as
>> well)?
>Glad to hear that my posts are getting through.

I see both Rae's and Bharathi's posts on this account (Caltech), but I
don't see Alice Schmid's.  I only see those on my Columbia account.  It's
very odd.

>But what we really need is a way for people to take breaks during the
>process. Though most of the "family-unfriendly" practices of science
>impact men & women, being a birth mother does impose special demands,
>and if we don't make some kind of allowance for it, there will always be
>an imbalance of women in the field. Re-entry fellowships, that allow
>women to post-doc after taking time off may work, as well as a
>relaxation of the rules for applying for NIH/NSF post-docs based on
>years from PhD (for special circumstances). And, maybe, some day,
>"leaves" will be permissible within a post-doc, i.e. you can get a NIH
>fellowship, and then take off two years, and resume the fellowship,
>before looking for faculty positions. Any other ideas?

I think these are all excellent suggestions; I even still see these
things that are for people under 35 ("young scientists").  I don't
think those are particularly fair for people who've waited to start
their scientific careers until after they've raised a family.  They
may be chronologically older, but still "young," scientifically.

I would vote for getting rid of all age-based requirements, but I've
heard a counter-argument, almost exclusively from men, that 
chronologically young scientists are the most creative.  You especially
hear this about mathematicians and physicists; they fret if they
haven't made their major discoveries by age 30, they're washed up.

I find myself wondering if this is true or a myth, even for men (the
examples cited in arguments like this are people like Mozart--not
even a mathematician--and sometimes Einstein).  And as far as I know,
no one has even studied women in this regard at all.  Female NObel
Laureates weren't particularly young when they made their discoveries:
how young was Barbara McClintock, how young was Rita Levi-Montalcini?
I also have seen a number of women thriving scientifically in their
40's and 50's; finally getting the recognition they deserve after 
having labored in unfair obscurity for a long time.  Until I see
good evidence to the contrary, I find that the evidence points to this
idea that chronologically young scientists are more creative being
a myth, not a reality, at least for women.


>I believe that some of these issues will never be resolved as long as
>they are perceived as only impacting women. But, I've noticed that men
>want to be involved with their families these days too, and know a few
>men who considered the family friendliness of their jobs seriously in
>making their decisions. 
>And though I do think that there are some very family un-friendly
>practices in science, the flexibility of the work schedule, the control
>over travel, the relative lack of deadlines, does mean that there are
>some family friendly practices, too. Compare an average scientific
>workday with being a surgeon, for example, or being a litigation
>attorney. Both of those jobs are demanding, but more importantly
>inflexible in timing demands.

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