Monday, January 16, 2006

More useless commentary

Found this in the Detroit News (via the Boston Globe): Female scientists weigh benefits of lab-vs.-life goals. Unfortunately, it is nothing but a case study of a Harvard biology grad student with a 1-year-old who urges her undergrads to combine careers in science with a family but who is contemplating dropping out of grad school because she can't imagine holding a research job and raising her son.

The article provides no real numbers on the frequency of this situation (no context), no suggestions for what can be done to help women in this situation, and no indication of where the child's father is.

I suppose an article like this might raise the awareness of some newspaper readers - yes, Virginia, there are women grad students who have kids. But I suspect that some reading it will just say, "that's what she gets for trying to have it all" while others will say "another example of societal barriers for women." But neither response advances the discussion. Frustrating!


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who hated that article. I totally agree. What a pointless waste of newsprint. The other issue that troubled me was that the woman interviewed didn't seem to have her thoughts solidified either. Is the problem just the difficulty of having a newborn and a work-intensive job at the same time? It seemed so because she didn't mention any particular barriers. It's not like her male scientist boss tried to fire her for getting pregnant, like what has happened to other women I know. I remain unsure and unconvinced about what the focus of that article even is.

DocBushwell said...

I'm arriving rather late to comment on this. I only recently stumbled across your blog, now bookmarked, via "Living the Life Scientific" via "ScienceBlogs."

I was appalled by the article for a number of reasons. One, as mentioned, is that this is a case study of one. Another particularly egregious one is the extremely limited vision this young woman has of research in both the academic and industrial spheres. A supremely ironic comment was that the student does not want to be a "drone" in corporate/biotech research, yet she thinks becoming a patent attorney would be more exciting than discovery research? My current and former female colleagues in discovery research throughout The Biz got a guilty laugh out of that one. "Guilty" because clearly no one at the "World's Greatest University" has educated this lone grad student as to her options.

I touched upon this article in the December 27 entry in my own blog, Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge, and may offer a longer screed on it at some point in the future. In the meantime, I agree that it was a waste of newsprint. Ms. Bombardieri must have had a deadline and thus license to spew.