The question I am asked the most often is how I manage a career as a science professor at research university with raising a young child. I suppose it is hard, but I don't see that it's any more difficult than being in business or some other career and raising a kid. In fact, I think it's actually easier. I have a lot of flexibility in terms of my work schedule, and the University has a child care center that my daughter absolutely loved when she was preschool aged. That really helped me a lot as well because I knew that my daughter was happy, having fun, and nearby.
I think the #1 key to balancing everything is to have a husband or partner who shares child care. It shocks me when I visit college friends and see that their husbands never take care of their kids alone -- some of these guys have never fed, bathed, or put a kid to bed. They are missing out! And my friends are stressed out because they never have time to themselves. I am glad that is not how my husband and I live. He can take care of our daughter just as well as I can, and, because he's a professor too, we understand each other's careers. I am trying not to sound smug, but it really works.
The main point, though, is that it's too bad if any young women decide that they can't have an academic career, and particularly not one at a research university, because they think it's too difficult to balance a career and family. It's only too difficult if you try to do it all yourself and if you don't have a supportive department. Otherwise, if you like research and teaching, it's a great life.
9 months ago