Comments about ‘Ivory tower not most family-friendly place’

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Published: Thursday, May 30 2013 6:30 a.m. MDT

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Hamath
Omaha, NE

A big part of the "problem" is that when you have a child, your academic life needs to be put on hold for a time and rightfully so. Beyond that the need to take care of the child even after you can go back to work is significant and takes emotional and physical capital. These directly impact a female professors ability to publish. You can't just stop publishing for a year or two and then just pick it up like you do a brush or pencil that you've laid around. Publishing takes years of momentum work behind it and a two year hiatus leaves you out of the loop. Since it takes so long to get to full professor (8 or more years of undergraduate and graduate work, + 7 years to get to Associate + 4 more years to get to Full professor) then the system essentially asks women to wait until they are lets see 18 + 8 + 7 + 4 = 37 years old before they can pursue a family at the least. Either that or do it much much slower which is what most of them do and they pay reflects that.

Max
Charlotte, NC

It is tough to be in two places at once, no matter what field you are in. It is not surprising that women without children make more than women with children. Unfortunately, there is always a tradeoff and opportunity cost with whatever path we take and this will always be the case.

Elias
SLC, UT

Gender pay inequality in the workplace is a well established fact. This article is spot on in assigning a large portion of the cause of that inequality on the fact that women often must split time between family responsibilities and work responsibilities--and that the inequality is usually not caused by discrimination.

Gender pay inequality is a legitimate issue for women who are in the workplace out of necessity, and I think it needs to be seriously addressed. But I still don't like that gender pay inequality is frequently highlighted as issue that needs to be resolved. It is a natural consequence of women prioritizing family responsibilities above work responsibilities. I think that highlighting gender pay inequality will only lead to a change in that priority in women.

The trend of women de-prioritizing their contributions at home is a much bigger issue then gender pay inequality.

grannyshrink
Orem, UT

Some of the comments seem to assume that women get to make a choice about whether to stay home or have a career. I am a tenured full professor at a large university. I went to work because I was widowed and needed to support my family. I would have much rather stayed home and been a full-time mother and have their father support us. Having both responsibilities has been very hard. Most women who work full-time do so because they have to feed their children. It is often a necessity not a choice. I am fortunate to work in a very family supportive environment, but I've heard some very sad stories from single mothers who have not only received little support but considerable discrimination. Our children need the income and opportunities that go with it just as much as children who have a father in the home - perhaps even more so.

  • 4:31 p.m. May 30, 2013
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kargirl
Sacramento, CA

Gender pay inequality will no doubt lessen when caring for home and children gets the kind of respect in action that it gets verbally on Mother's Day. Although many fathers today do this work, they don't get the respect for it they deserve, either, and often are even better at it, but it needs recognition in the workforce, as was stated, in family-friendly policies for both fathers and mothers.

coltakashi
Richland, WA

A question I would ask the female professors who have raised children is, Was it worth it to have children, despite the burden it created for your academic career? I would hope that most of them would say Yes. Your academic colleagues are not going to look after you when you are old and physically impaired. And the opportunity to turn a baby into a child and then an adult is an investment that can be more rewarding than any professional achievement. A child who loves you, and even grandchildren who want to be with you, validates your life on earth as much as any professional accolade. The fact that people who are not academically gifted can also receive that validation does not make it any less vital to your own happiness.

kargirl
Sacramento, CA

coltakashi, while I enjoyed being a mom more than I can say, I can also say this: it is not a popularity contest, nor do the children come with guarantees of future caretaking contracts attached and signed. They may or may not care for parents in their old, ancient years...and they may not be able, willing, or even on good terms with them--these are, after all, separate individuals we are discussing. They may have passed away. The parents may choose not to have them do it. Don't go assuming the reason to have children is some magical fulfillment of either the mother, or a supposed contract on the part of those offspring towards the parents. We who choose to have children need to understand that it has to be without expectation of reimbursement on their parts. All we can do is love them, enjoy them, teach them, and swear that even if they look like Quasimodo, they are the best-looking kids this ol' world has ever seen. But they do not owe it to us to care for us in our old age, dote on us, or have grandchildren for us.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

Is the juice worth the squeezes. That depends on you. What is your priority. They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting something different. If your in dept are you going to listen to the same person that put you there. It's like in raising kids, how rude do you want them.

snowwhite&7dwarfs
Cedar City, UT

This is part of the myth that women can have it all. Somebody, generally the mom, needs to stay home with the kids and although that doesn't "pay" it's a very important job. I have a solution. That is, graduate school after you raise the kids and tenure track for your second career. That's what I did and it worked out just fine.

germanygator
Apo, AE

I had no idea that academic success was the ultimate goal in life. Wow. Thanks for clarifying that for me.

Look, folks, seems like everyone these days wants to be in a protected group. The Oprah crowd screams for women to be proud they have a uterus. Life is full of choices. Heck, just last week I was complaining how I can't be on a cruise in the Bahamas and visiting France at the same time. It's so unfair! I picked France.

Kids aren't pets, they're adults in training. If the decision is so hard, don't have kids. Keep life centered on yourself and then end your family line in one generation. It's no big deal...academia, not family, is what matters most of all, right?

kosimov
Riverdale, UT

@kargirl-

I get the essence of what you say, but I feel you are too extreme. In the LDS Church, for example, the children ARE expected to help care for aging parents if necessary, and in cases I know of, they do it happily. Also, a bishop will ask children to care for their parents if they are in need.

Of course, there are exceptions. You focused on things which may not happen. You didn't mention what happens when things go right. I encourage you to think of that, and perhaps to find a little more brightness in your life than by focusing on negative exceptions to hoped-for outcomes. Very often, children DO volunteer to care for parents, and have planned for it.

We enjoyed caring for my mother who lived with us for 15 years after divorce; it was a joyful but sometimes difficult life. My brother took care of my father. My family was not LDS, but seeing the truth in the doctrine of families in the Church, we found great joy in returning the love and sacrifice our parents unselfishly gave us. I believe there IS a contract!

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

I think BYU should look at ways to make the highering and employment process more friendly to mothers on faculty.

On the other hand, I can see why a dual-higher plan guaranteeing work for a spouse is not going to be easy to make popular, but it is clearly the best way to have more women as professors.

Strider303
Salt Lake City, UT

I agree with germanygator. Life is not fair. None of us can have it all. Choosing requires sacrifice of options not chosen.

If you view academia as a life goal, then go after it. Sacrifice social and personal relationships for time in the library and laboratory and revel in the publishing of new discoveries and awards on the "I Love Me" section of the office wall.

If relationships, children for many but not all, close associations and triumph over other trials of life with a spouse and in-laws and all the chaos, humor, tears and what all multi-generation family brings then focus time and energy on that.

I am a bit annoyed at the whining and sense of entitlement by those who see themselves as the elite members of the group of carbon based life forms on the planet when they can't get their way.

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