Skepchick Quickies, 8.17


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. RE the cost of space exploration. Somewhere about 1987, when the Hubble Telescope was under threat of cancellation, I wrote a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer which they printed. It contrasted two sums of money which had appeared on two separate pages of a recent issue.
    One was the total ten-year cost of building the Hubble. The other was the annual amount tobacco companies collectively spent on advertising. I pointed out that the latter figure was twice the former. I do wish we could get our priorities straight.

    1. Those numbers don’t seem comparable, after all the people who decide what to spend on Hubble, and the people who decide what to spend on Tobacco advertising aren’t the same people.

      Now, comparing space exploration costs with defence spending would be a much better comparison.

  2. I don’t know about “romance” but having a family and having a high powered STEM career are definitely seen as incompatible by many women in graduate programs for science. Why?

    When our graduate program had a meeting to discuss the high female drop out rate (ie leaving with a Master’s Degree instead of finishing the PhD) the professors had a lively discussion while the grad students sat in the back and realized that only one of the female professors on the panel had a happy family life.

    Add to that the fact that the age at which women are getting married and having babies is the same time high power scientists are working 80 – 100 hours a week.

    Romance interfering with career? No, LIFE and women’s biology are interfering with a high power science career.

    1. Wouldn’t the problem be splved by having a legal requirement for universal childcare facilities for both Mums and Dads (Work creches etc)

    2. [bitter grad school drop-out rant]
      A researcher at the top of their particular field at a prestigious university might have a family, and might even know their children’s names, but they do not waste any more time on such things than absolutely necessary. Nor do they see any reason why their graduate students should. Academia is incompatible with life for both men and women, but men are more able to–and more likely to be willing to–get away with not having a life.
      [/bitter grad school drop-out rant]

      A child needs at least one parent who is not in academia–if both parents are in tenure track positions, that would be grounds for calling in child protective services, IMHO. It is possible, but highly unlikely, for the one parent actually involved in raising the child to be the father.

      And day care does not solve this problem–it is only day care. You have to come pick up your kid and take them to a home where someone will be watching them at 5PM, or when they throw up, or when they start beating up the other kids, etc. etc.

      1. The likelihood that both partners have tenure track positions is likely quite small so if your female parter has a tenure track position then the childcare from 5pm rests with you and if your male then my dad did just that with me when my mum was at work in the evenings. I your both 8 am to 11 pm highly driven scientists then an extended family is a must. These are all back of envelope ideas but if I actually employed scientists I’d research how such problems can be overcome because many driven people from entertainers, scientists and business have the same problem.

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