WISE Conference

March 14, 2008


Below are some of the responses to the discussion questions posed during lunch. Some responses are very similar, reflecting continuing themes. If two groups had exactly the same response, they were not included in duplicate.


Question 1: If women are choosing not to have careers in academia and/or research, what do you see as the reason?


-          Raising children requires a huge time investment; there is a need to be around your children

-          Scared that putting a career first will hurt their children

-          Women take on a larger proportion of household responsibilities

-          Worry about limiting ourselves career-wise to do things we want to with our family

-          Not enough healthy models of women balancing academic and family life (many successful women have no children or are not married)

-          Trying to do it all leaves no time for oneself

-          Feel guilty about wanting the best of work and family

-          Setting boundaries can be difficult, especially with older colleagues

-          Faculty are not good role models of a healthy balance

-          Women are more reflective than men and thus are more likely to investigate many options, including those outside academia

-          Women are more likely to be turned off from academia by interacting with “jerky” academics

-          Difficult to handle peer pressure

-          Competitiveness for best work/project inherent in academia

-          Some have a hard time dealing with failures

-          Being a minority in terms of gender

-          Women hold themselves to higher standards (or alternatively, experience a setback as a personal failure). An example is many scientists have to do 2+ post-docs before getting a faculty position. Women may see this as “I’m not good enough” more so than men.

-          Women are held to a higher standards than men (both professionally and personally)

-          Family time conflicts with the academic time clock (biological clock vs. academic clock?)


Question 2: What are the coping mechanisms you’ve developed to balance your professional and personal life?


-          Exercise classes or hobbies are an unbreakable appointment

-          Graduate school is an unhealthy lifestyle and self-preservation of our mental/physical health is not always encouraged

-          Do not work at home

-          Maintain contact with family, even if they’re far away geographically

-          Finding peace with oneself

-          Parenting: doing what you want for your children, not what you think should be done just to be a good parent

-          Communicate your plans so people respect your boundaries

-          Outsourcing things that you don’t want to do (e.g. cleaning)

-          Schedule personal things – make them a formal commitment

-          Leave work at the office

-          Developing scheduling skills

-          Learn to say no

-          Find a partner who will split responsibilities

-          Have fewer kids

-          Get a housekeeping robot, self-cleaning house, or win the lottery to pay for a housekeeper and nanny J