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The Cornell Store, the CU-ADVANCE Center and the Cornell University Press presented an afternoon of public discussion with author Emily Monosson and Cornell faculty about motherhood in the world of science and engineering on May 9.
Monosson's book, "Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory," is a collection of personal stories by female scientists and researchers who recall their struggles to juggle family life with their careers.
About half of the undergraduate and roughly 40 percent of graduate degree recipients in science and engineering are women. As increasing numbers of these women pursue research careers in science, many who choose to have children discover the unique difficulties of balancing a professional life in these highly competitive (and often male-dominated) fields with the demands of motherhood. Although this issue directly affects the career advancement of women scientists, it is rarely discussed as a professional concern, leaving individuals to face the dilemma on their own.
To address this obvious but unacknowledged crisis – the elephant in the laboratory, according to one scientist - Monosson, an independent toxicologist, brought together 34 women scientists from overlapping generations and several fields of research – including physics, chemistry, geography, paleontology, and ecology, among others – to share their experiences.