Thursday, March 01, 2007

Not A News Flash

Today I was talking with some women colleagues about Research, Careers, Life etc. I don't know these women well, if at all, so it was interesting to hear about their lives and how they are managing the cosmic balance between family life and a job that requires an infinite amount of time. The women whose husbands/partners do a substantial amount of childcare, cooking, housework etc. are doing fine - their lives are crazy, of course, but they are feeling like the career-family thing is doable. These women each have 1 child. I include myself in this group. The women whose husbands/partners do not help much at home were also doing OK, but were a lot more worried about their careers and their families: they worried more that they weren't doing well with either. In this group, these women all had 2 or more children. I think what they are doing is amazing, even if I don't understand their family arrangements (why don't their husbands help more?). It would have been interesting for comparative purposes if there had been a woman with an equal-partner husband and multiple children and a woman with an unhelpful husband but only 1 child, but there were none in this group.


Anonymous said...

I'm most surprised that you found a group of women (presumably in the physical sciences) that all had kids. Of all the women in my department, I'm the only one with kids. I'm definitely viewed as the oddball among the faculty, and I suspect the women faculty see me as courageous.

I would put myself in the category of two kids with a spouse who does equal (if not more) work at home with regards to child care and housekeeping. I honestly don't think that my career is suffering because of my family obligations. Of course my husband is not an academic. He's an engineer who works a 40 hour week.

Anonymous said...

I agree with #1. In my department, there's only one other woman with kids, and it's only one child. I have three, and I'm viewed as weird.

My husband is also in academics, we have a nanny and a cleaning lady, and take turns going away for work reasons. Both our publication lists have suffered from the children.

And we each had to give up a better offer in order to have two jobs at a reasonable distance.


Mr. B. said...


Just to add to the anecdotal discussion. I have two female colleagues. One has just become a full professor and she has four kids. Her husband is somewhat helpful but he is a doctor (medical) and doesn't have a whole lot of time (either.) This woman is a genius, incredibly organized, and a lot of fun.

The other colleague has three kids and is divorced with primary responsibility for the kids. She also has her act very much together.


I don't know.

(It seems to me that some of us are only capable of handling about one child, and others want and can handle much more - maybe it is genetic.)

Mr. B.

Anonymous said...

None of the women (faculty) in my department have children. 1 graduate student does.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, but maybe husbands who share equally in the work realize how difficult it is to manage a household and a career and so don't really want to have more than one child. On the other hand, husbands who don't share equally are not "inconvenienced" by having more children, as it has no negative effect on their careers.

Twice said...

I recall reading a book about egalitarian marriages (I think is was Love Between Equals by Pepper Schwartz) that made a case that "peer marriage" works most easily for couples, okay for couples with one child with some adjustment, but starts to break down when the second kid arrives.

Like #1, however, I have two kids with a husband who does equal (sometimes more) kid stuff. He is also an academic, and both of our careers have suffered some. (Having twins gets the father involved right away, though this is not neccessarily a strategy I would recommend!)

I have no idea what women do who do not have husbands who share equally.

One last thought: Once in a while I think perhaps the super successful women with lots of children have children who sleep more than mine.

Ms.PhD said...

Wow. Most of the women at the last two places I've worked have children.

Recently I was surprised to learn that someone I had assumed had no children actually has them. Amazing when it's so effortless that it never shows, and you never feel the need to complain about it!?

I'm just glad to hear accounts of men who are wise enough to realize that they aren't just 'helping' their wives, that it's THEIR JOB, TOO!