Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Family Leave, Nerdy Babies, Feline Guest Post

For some reason that is probably related to my shortcomings as a blogger and a human, I typically ignore requests to post announcements and links of various sorts, and, strangely enough, I do not respond to requests for guest posts from people who are clearly sending out form letters and have absolutely no clue what this blog is about.

But today I am going to change all that, at least for today, sort of. I am going to post an announcement, a link for a shopping site, and I am going to allow a guest post from one of my cats, all in one post. It is pretty incredible, I know, but I am feeling festive today. Not so much, though, that I am ready to do one of those meme-things (yet).

Perhaps I am feeling happyish today because someone wrote to me asking if they could quote one of my posts about having a Christmastime Birthday. This is not the first such request. If I am remembered for anything, it seems that it will be for this statement:
In fact, I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for the creator of "For Your Christmas Time Birthday" cards (especially the ones with birthday cakes surrounded by poinsettias and holly). (FSP 2006)
Anyway, here is an important announcement about a topic of interest to astronomers and others:

Would you be interested in posting about our effort to improve family leave policies for graduate students and postdocs in our field (astronomy)? 

Since posting our petition to encourage the establishment of family leave policies by departments and fellowship committees only a few hours ago, we already have over 300 signatures. As in all fields, supporting early career scientists is a hot topic for us. 

from: the American Astronomical Society Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy

p.s. In addition to the petition, we recently sent a survey to all astronomy department chairs in an effort to catalog current formal policies and existing practices. (We already know that most grad students and postdocs fall through the cracks). We will use these two pieces of information to create a formal recommendation from our American Astronomical Society. We will also share examples of departments which have succeeded in funding more progressive family leave policies for graduate students and postdocs in our field.  

And here is a link to a site where you can acquire some nerdy baby gifts, as described in this e-mail message to me:

We're two MIT grad students who noticed a lack of baby apparel for the discerning academic or scientist. As someone who's into science, math and possibly nerdy gifts, we thought you might like some of our designs:

And here is a guest post from one of my cats (I can't say which one, as he prefers to be anonymous, but it is the one who does most of my grading and editing). This cat has kindly agreed to write a thoughtful essay on what it is like to be a feline who secretly grades science problem sets and exams, not to mention editing dissertations and manuscripts. As you might imagine, this situation raises some tricky ethical and other issues, and I think it is worth discussing from the point of view of the cat.

Note: I am not paying my cat to do this guest post (nor do I pay him in money to grade and edit), but I have agreed not to edit or alter in any way his guest post.


Anonymous said...

I'm a grad student in physics who's married and already has a kid (though I have zero intention of having another one was enough, thankyouverymuch). The unwritten expectation is that grad students are childless and should remain that way for the duration of the PhD (how else can one devote 60 hours/week to research???), but it completely ignores the reality that grad students are ADULTS, many of whom are in ADULT relationships, and ADULT relationships often lead to ADULT responsibilities like children.

In addition, most of us female grad students are of prime child-bearing age (i.e., under 35 years old) and have to make a very real decision as to when to have children; we can't put it off until we're 45 years old and finally get tenure somewhere.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

He just wants to be friends with the little puppy, right? RIGHT?

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing our family leave petition with your readers! Since posting the petition under a week ago, we've received over 875 signatures (not a bad start considering our relatively small community of a few thousand). In early January we'll be advertising it heavily at our annual Astronomical Society meeting. To your readers -- Please sign! If you work in a field outside of astronomy, please note your field in the 'institution' tab, i.e., University of South Pole - ElfinChemistry. And if your institution has an institution-wide family leave policy for grad students and/or postdocs, please post it at our wiki -

Anonymous said...

What set of the first Anonymous? Was it the juxtaposition of the bichon frise puppy and the fondue pot?

(I am 100% in support of family leave policies for grad students, by the way, if that was the point of the rant.)

Anonymous said...

Even before I read the comments, I was wondering if your cat wants to have the puppy as a pet, or has some other role for it. I see I am not alone in posing this question.

Good luck to the astronomers. More power to you, and all those who make these much-needed efforts in this area.