Monday, June 11, 2007

Patriotic metablogging

Last week I was at a conference, and I spent all the time saying hi to old friends, gossiping, and occasionally discussing maths.
So to ease myself back into blogging, I come up with a comment post to A Natural Scientist's post about juggling parental and academic duties. If you haven't read the post, you should do so now. It contains the following, excellent sentences:

I have never once heard a young man in my class say 'I don't know if I could have children and tenure.'
If I can't have what I want- intellectually satisfying work AND children- I don't want to play that game.

What can I say, but add that I was blessed enough as to be able to have it all? I did have to make some choices. I don't earn as much as I could, and neither of us is at a great university. But we can do research, and we have some time for the children. We delegate housecleaning duties and a few hours of child minding per day; the latter will diminish as the children grow older and the internet connection at home gets faster.

A lot of this is only possible because I live in a country that is, by american standards, incredibly left wing. A country with great affordable childcare, and public schools open 8 hours a day. A country where married women keep their surname, and there is no social stigma on working mothers. I use to be very unhappy about my country, which has a lot of serious problems, but it has its good sides.

So to all of you who are struggling with a two-body problem, all I can suggest is: look over the Atlantic! Better places exist! Once you're tenured, you can relax and get children, and then start working hard again.

Of course, this requires two other careful choices: that of a partner willing to share with you the burden of parenting, and that of a research area where tenure arrives early on the biological clock.

And I feel it is my duty to say, loud and proud, that I have kids. In my institution, the other female professors average .25 children each, and the male professors don't mention their offspring until said offspring starts grad school. I want students to have at least one family-friendly role model.

As a part of that, I repeated to everybody at the conference that I was going home one day early to attend C#1's end-of-schoolyear theater play. Now I just have to print out a few photos to bring along and then I'm all set as a role model.

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