21 November 2009

The choices to make

"It’s not innate gender differences that hold women back (just look at this year’s Nobel Prize winners in science). It’s not even gender bias (OK, maybe a little, but that’s not the biggest problem). It’s that science is demanding and very, very competitive. No matter how family-friendly a given university is, a scientist who chooses to have a baby risks having her next big breakthrough scooped up by a competitor who chooses to spend 24-7 in the lab. Changing that will take more than a handful of policies; it will require changing the nature of the game itself. I don’t think that’s possible, and I’m not entirely convinced it’s desirable. It’s competition, after all, that spurs innovation and advancement."
Janeen Interlandi has some interesting thoughts on the whole “why aren’t there more women scientists” thing. (via newsweek)

Isn't it attitudes like this that create such imbalances in the whole work/life debate? The question of "family vs. work" is a critical one for professional women (not just scientists) and one that I ask myself as I move forward with my degree and career, but it just isn't helpful to make the dicotomy turn into "those annoying kids getting in the way vs. that next great discovery that will make you famous." It's really about priorities and what's considered valuable: fame and reputation vs. people?

What's actually worth it?