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Women Atop Their Fields Dissect the Scientific Life

June 7, 2011

The New York Times science section ran a short but good article this week interviewing four female scientists at the top of their games in different disciplines. They way I read it, they all took different paths but came out with similar messages: science is hard but rewarding, so if you want to make it, you’ve got to make it work for you. Here’s the URL:

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynnae Quick permalink
    June 8, 2011 10:21 pm

    “If my daughter has to ask “Should I be a scientist?” the answer is no. But if my daughter says to me, “I was born to be a scientist. I can’t be anything else. This is my life,” then you say, “You go, girl.””

    -This statement made me wonder if Dr. Hirsch regrets, even a little, being a scientist, or the path she decided to take to ensure that she was a well-established scientist.

    If we love what we do as scientists, teachers, etc., why wouldn’t we encourage others to do it as well? I understand not wanting a child to feel like he or she has to follow in the footsteps of their parents as far as careers go. However, I would think a more apt response would be that being a scientist is not the path for everyone, but it can be rewarding, give the child all the information you can, and then let them choose what path they want to take. When i was in high school, or even maybe college, if I’d asked someone, especially an older, established female scientist, if I should consider science as a career and gotten the above response, I might not be in grad school now. After all, it is most likely in high school or early on in one’s college career where the question of “what should I do with my life” is first asked. You don’t want to shoot down potential scientists before they even get started. To me, not being 100% sure about whether you should be a scientist doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t be one.

  2. Myriam Telus permalink
    June 8, 2011 5:57 pm

    Thanks for the link to the article. It was really encouraging.

  3. June 8, 2011 3:16 am

    Being a Titanium!!! not even steel….. Loved it!! very interesting article… Thanks 🙂

  4. julie permalink
    June 7, 2011 10:57 pm

    This is a very nice article, thanks for sharing!
    Just to comment on that statement “You have to do what the guys do, and it does not matter what it takes.” Maybe it is truly worth it if you can get in return the same thing as the guys. Is this always the case?

    I have decided long ago that I would not need to have a big role on a mission because I do not want to do what it takes if this means that I will miss on my kid’s childhood. Each time I get involved in a new project, I make it very clear that my son will not be the first to arrive at the daycare and the last one to leave. If this is a problem, then don’t take me on your project. Fortunately, it has not been as much a problem as one could imagine.

    • KatGV permalink
      June 8, 2011 1:44 pm

      Julie, the statement you quote above bothered me, too. It DOES matter what it takes! I realized as soon as I had my son that I had to make a decision then and there about what takes precedent in my life. For me, it is family, hands down. I may have to compromise some days, but I will strive to make those days few and far between. Thanks for your comment!

      • June 8, 2011 3:20 pm

        That sentence about having to do everything the guys do also surprised me. My reaction wasn’t “Then I don’t want to be like the guys”, but “not all the men are willing to do that either”. My partner and I have struck a pretty good balance when it comes to childcare and domestic responsibilities. He’s not willing to have the kids be the first to daycare and the last ones picked up either. What struck me from the interview, was that there was a sense that it was still the women’s responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen and that is just not true! In many of the young dual career couples I see, the male partner takes considerable responsibility for childcare. In the past, this wasn’t always the case. This fraternal involvement should be celebrated and recognized. Both partners need to make sacrifices and be flexible, especially if they choose to have children. This was a prerequisite for children in our household.

  5. KatGV permalink
    June 7, 2011 2:16 pm

    Awesome article! We are made of steel!!! 🙂

    I especially took to heart the comments about having children. I highly respect Dr. Rabin’s comment: “And I think that one important thing to remember is that these children are going to grow. And if you miss out on their babyhood and then childhood and so on, these times are gone. You should think how to balance these things and get the research done but not forsake these things that are never coming back. The research is going to be there two years down the road, three years down the road, but there are things that are very precious that should not be missed out on.”

    I also appreciate Dr. Hirsch’s honesty: “If my daughter has to ask “Should I be a scientist?” the answer is no. But if my daughter says to me, “I was born to be a scientist. I can’t be anything else. This is my life,” then you say, “You go, girl.”” Well put.

  6. June 7, 2011 1:29 pm

    This was really interesting to read, thanks for posting! Even though they all said ~ the same thing, there was a bit of difference of opinion towards the end and I am glad they weren’t shy about sharing. 🙂

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