SPEAKER: This is a production of Cornell University.
TED ARNOLD: Thanks everyone for coming out. I think everybody has a copy of the program in front of you here. But basically I'm going to turn it over to Emily in just a moment. My name is Ted Arnold. I'm with the Cornell Bookstore here. And this is partly my fault for getting all of this together.
What seems like six, eight months ago, I saw in the Cornell University Press catalog that this book was coming out, well before we even saw the really neat cover that they put together for it. And I was able to track down Emily and said, gee, it looks neat. I think it would be a great thing to do at Cornell. What do you think? And in the next couple of months, we were able to get some folks together. And with the help of the CU Advance Center here, we were able to get some faculty assistance and get the word out across campus.
So the response has been really great. The book has been out for only a few weeks. But people really seem to be interested in it. And from what I understand, a few other panels have come about elsewhere. So we're really happy that this kind of ticks off everything and the folks from CU Press have come. So we hope that it's an enjoyable time. And please feel free with questions, and so on.
And I'll turn it over to Emily Monosson, the editor of the book, who is a Cornell PhD, back for the first time in a while. And she'll be handling the floor. And if there are any questions that you need of me, I'll be nearby. But otherwise, it's all yours.
EMILY MONOSSON: OK, thank you.
TED ARNOLD: Thank you.
EMILY MONOSSON: And hi. First, I want to thank Ted for putting this together because like he said, this is the first. And I'm really grateful. I should mention that there are 34 contributors to this book. And I only knew two of them. And so this was a really nice opportunity for me to meet-- even for the other contributors to meet each other. And so there's Marilyn, and Joan, and Gina that are here.
So-- well, I going to jump right into this. And like Ted said, I graduated here 20 years ago. And I graduated. I got a PhD at the vet school. And at the time, I was gung-ho. I didn't have kids. I didn't have a husband. And I just knew I was just going to go and have a full-time research career in academia or in a government lab.
And so I started right off with a fellowship, a AAAS fellowship for science and engineering, which meant that you go to DC and you work. And I remember at the fellowship-- I can't remember her name now. But the woman who ran the fellowship said this is going to create opportunities and open doors for you. And 20 years later, through 20 years of my career, I kept thinking, well, I haven't used this fellowship really for anything until this book came about.
And this is really pretty much how it happened. And I think in part it's thanks to doing this AAAS fellowship because it all started out with the triple-- with being on the listserv for former fellows. And I think there's something like 600 people on the listserv. They're all scientists, who have gone through their fellowship program. There's a lot of different ones, that you probably all have seen, for science and engineering, journalism, policy.
So I'm just going to start with-- and all I'm going to talk about is just how the project came about because I think it's a really cool thing that happened here. So it started out with-- I wrote a letter to the AAAS listserv. I was sitting at home. I work from home. I'm a toxicologist. I work part-time. The letter explains it all.
And so I had been reading The New York Times on the internet, as I do in the morning sometimes. And the quote of the day is always up front, and forward. And this was the quote of the day. And I sent it out to the listserv.
I said, hi, all. This is the letter I sent. And this was two years ago, almost to the-- it was March 2006. I'm curious if anyone read the article in "Women and Work" in the Thursday, March 2 issue of The New York Times entitled "Stretched to the Limit, Women Stall March to Work," by Eduardo Porter. Here's the quote of the day that caught my eye. "Most of us thought we would work and have kids, at least that's what we thought we were brought up thinking we would do-- no problem. But really, we were kind of duped. None of us realized how hard it is." Cathy Watson-Short.
And then I went on to write that as a part-time scientist and full-time mother-- and I should at this listserv, nothing personal is ever discussed. I mean, it's a professional listserv. So what's going on in DC, what do you think of this, seminars coming up.
And I was at a stage in my career that I just had to spew. And so I wrote, As a part-time scientist and full-time mother it was of interest because I think there are-- many in science struggle with combining work and family, though it is not discussed that often in the sciences. The focus is always on how do we get women into science, how do we keep them there, but little talk about what happens with women when the kids come along? Ever since having kids, determined to work only school hours, I've struggled with keeping a, quote, "part-time career" in science going, in my case patching together consulting, soft money, and teaching.
It's been interesting and fulfilling. And when it's going well, I feel fortunate to be able to do this, that I can keep on in science. I'm fairly certain, however, that this is not the career path that would be considered successful by major scientific organizations in this country, like AAAS and NSF, but rather a step down.
When these groups do refer to, quote, "alternative careers" for those men and women wishing to care for family and do science, they often refer to positions outside of academia, such as industry, and often discuss and interview only those in full-time positions. I'd like to think that a scientist who has gone through the rigors of training, research, and publishing, and logged some years in the profession that has something to offer their particular-- has something to offer their particular field, even if they cut back on hours that they work, to care for family. I'm curious about the experience of those on this list, who have split work and family, what kinds of positions they've held, how they feel about their experiences, and what kind of advice they would give to young scientists, particularly women, about their options, and finally what kind of changes they'd like to see, if any, in academia, government, or NGO, or industry?
So I sent that out. And the response was overwhelming and immediate. And I collected 17 pages, just cutting and pasting all the little responses. And the interesting thing was, was that all those responses-- so these were dozens of responses by women, and Marilyn was one of them. But they all sent them to me. They didn't send them back to the whole list.
And there was one response that came back to the whole list. And that one response that was sent to the whole said, I'm in academia. I have kids. I managed, no problem.
And that was the one that everybody who sent all these 17 to me didn't see. And so at that point I thought, OK, well, clearly I need to get these responses back to the list. And so I asked them if they minded if I strip off their names-- and I had condensed it all into a Word file-- and I said, can I send it back, and your names aren't on it?
Most of them said yes. A few who felt that whatever they had written would identify them, didn't want it. And I took theirs out. I sent it back. And that resulted in another slew of emails, the same thing. And this time, a few went to the whole list. But there were still pages of responses.
And I wanted to read some of those responses, just to give you some idea of what I was getting back. This is a topic that concerns me greatly. It's not just science. I've seen at least six very talented, brilliant, female PhDs bail out of academia because they couldn't simultaneously raise a family and pursue tenure.
I discovered I'd been duped soon after I began my postdoc. Currently, I am part-time scientist. But as you said, it's viewed as a step down even though my full-time colleagues and former co-workers are too polite to say it out loud. Wish I wasn't missing as much as I am. Don't think all companies understand yet the need to work with women during these years. Being able just to keep my son in the office when I had to return to work is the difficulty. But I think many valuable contributions are missed.
I think you are correct that what you've done is perceived as a step down. This stems from there being too many qualified people for too few interesting jobs, and too little money in science to support those who are qualified. Unless there's actual public pro-family policy, as there is in France, there'll be little hope of it becoming better for any scientists, male or female, who wants to take time for family.
We no longer have to obey evolution, as we've proven in so many ways. But I don't believe that we have reached gender equality as long as females are expected to behave, and think, and act like males. We should evolve our societies to also respect those evolutionary and individual traits that are still useful for continuing our species. Our genders certainly shouldn't imprison us. But neither should we be forced to deny them to have equal access to opportunities.
My wife and I are both former fellows. Three kids later, she cobbles together something part-time, while I work full-time. This kind of inequity is not what either of us envisioned or wanted. I appreciate your email, but feel that it extends to fathers as well. That was the only male response I got though.
I'm working a very flexible, but not really career-track job in management consulting company, working exclusively from home. It was supposed to be short experiment, just for experience. In the meantime, two children were born. And my husband puts in long hours at his lab, I'd like to get back into science, science policy, but I'm busy with everyday minutia, juggling schedules, chauffeuring, homework, et cetera. It's been hard to hit the books. I'm sure this sounds very familiar.
I really appreciate you raising this issue despite everyone's reluctance to discuss it openly. I am on a number of science listservs, including one specifically for women earth scientists. And no one will ever bring this up. I've also seen The New York Times article, and have been curious about what other people felt about it.
And then, I'm an engineer, also working mommy hours and married to a professor. So I can relate to what you're talking about on various levels. I worked for state, government, big corp, little businesses, and on my own, in various locations, situations, and capacities. It's been a long series of struggles and juggles. Today is no exception.
I totally agree that the push to get more women in science and engineering has ignored the elephant in the room, motherhood. You can see where the title came from. And she didn't write a chapter, but she contributed the title.
And so after all of these responses, and after sending it back out to the listserv, one of the respondents, Francesca Grifo, who's now at the Union of Concerned Scientists, e-mailed me and said, this really should reach a broader audience. And I'd be willing to work with you, if you want. And so we thought about putting a book together. And then she became too busy with what she's doing. And because of how I work, I had the time to do this.
And so I turned around and I said, OK, I put a little book proposal together. And then sent one other email out to that same listserv. And I said, here's the project. Here's the preproposal. Does anybody want to write essays?
And then I got something like 60 responses from listservs and people all over the country. And actually only one original respondent, Marilyn, ended up contributing a chapter. And everybody else is a viral spread.
And this is what I just think is really amazing, because it was just-- you know, this project started with one email to a listserv. And the book came about because of one email to a listserv. And it spread. And you can see when it hit different listservs because I got a bunch of physicists, and it hit the physics listserv. So that's what happened.
And I have to say that I feel like that those who decided to write were really taking a chance because here they were sending their essays and their story to someone. They had no clue who I was. They didn't know what I was going to do with this really, how I was going to frame it, whether it would ever get published. So it was a real leap of faith for them to do that.
So anyway-- and I ended up-- I didn't select-- actually, I did a little selection. Joan asked me this morning if there was-- if I did do any selection? And I did because-- I had an overabundance of women from academia who wanted to write about family, full-time tenure track positions. And I had a few already that had volunteered to write. And I knew that there's a bunch of books already out there by Parenting Professor. There's Mama, PhD, that was published last year about women in academia.
And I, partially self-serving, feel really strongly that there are a lot of women out there-- and a lot of people out there-- I feel that whenever I read-- and I don't study this. So I could be wrong. So I hope anybody will correct me. But when I read about the leaking pipeline, and I read about where are all the women scientists going, I feel like I want to raise my hand and say, I know where some of them are going. They're not being counted.
And it's not just people with family. It's dual career couples. We live in a five college area. I know people, spouses, men, partners. They don't necessarily have kids, but they're there with their partners. And one of them is doing something alternative because of where they are. But they're contributing in really important and interesting ways, that just aren't necessarily counted in all of these surveys of where are they going, what are they doing?
And so I felt really strongly that I wanted to find people that were doing that. And the thing is, is that because of how this spread, it was on listservs of various scientific organizations and associations. It wasn't reaching those people because-- you know, I dropped from my toxicology organization a couple of years ago just because the rates were so high. And I don't go to the meetings that often. So these people weren't on these listservs.
So those are the ones I solicited. And I asked-- people who emailed me, I said I have a lot of this. But if you know of anybody that's a scientist and is working something different, and this might not reach, could you please send this on to them. So I did actively look for people doing different kinds of work in the sciences.
And then the final thing came to-- I had all the essays-- was how to organize it. And that was something else that I was naive about when I began this. I thought, well, it will fall into-- being scientific, I put in the neat categories. And first, I was going to organize it by how they worked, whether full-time, part-time, opt-in, opt-out.
Well, once I read through all the essays that was clear, that there are a lot of people who did a lot of different things throughout their career tracks. And people working have tenure now, start out part-time. Some people who had full-time industry jobs are now doing part-time consulting. So it's just-- it was all over the place.
And so then I thought, well, I'll do it by sector, again academia, government, NGO. And that didn't work because of the same reason, people do all sorts of things. And so then finally I just said, well, what if I just take the year of their PhD and put it in chronological order? And that just seemed really interesting to me. So it's organized by decade, year of PhD, which isn't always reflective, depending on what people have done. But it starts with the '70s, '80s, '90s, and then 2000s.
And one of the things that was interesting-- and I'm thinking it's probably partly artificial-- is that in the '70s, the people who are in the '70s, mostly I think, except for maybe Marilyn, were full-time most of the time, and are still full-time. And then as you get to the 2000s, people doing all sorts of stuff. And each year, there seems to be more spread into the diversity of what people are doing and how they're doing it.
And part of that is-- I don't know, and maybe anybody here does know. But I'm thinking part of it is, I would never find those women in the '70s who might have tried to do alternative things. But it might have been that you just didn't have that option in the '70s. And if you weren't going to go full force-- I don't know-- then you weren't going to be in science for very much longer.
But it wasn't scientific. So I don't know. But I think it's interesting. And so with that, I think we'll start with-- we'll get on with the panel.
JOAN S. BAIZER: Thank you.
EMILY MONOSSON: Oh, wait. I need to introduce you.
JOAN S. BAIZER: Oh, sorry.
EMILY MONOSSON: So let me just that I have you back. And I do have yours, Joan. Sorry. I'm sorry. I have Joan. Where's the book?
OK. So the first part-- I'm sorry about that. I have Joan's bio here. But it's not that organized.
OK, so first I want to introduce Joan and the two discussants. And so Joan, can I read your bio?
JOAN S. BAIZER: Sure.
EMILY MONOSSON: OK. So Joan lives, works, and right now she's not, but shovels snow in Buffalo, New York. She's an associate professor in physiology and biophysics at the University of Buffalo; the mother of a 19-year-old developmentally disabled child, who lives in a nearby group home. Her research is on the functional organization and comparative anatomy of the visual and vestibular systems. In addition to teaching and research, she's involved in disabilities advocacy for children and their parents.
She received her BA from Bryn Mawr in 1968, her MS and PhD from Brown in 1970 and '73, respectively. She did post-doctoral training at NIH from 1973 to 1976.
And then, as discussants for Joan is Shelley Correll, who is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology. And she's been at Cornell since 2003. She received her PhD from Stanford in 2001 and her BS in chemistry from Texas AM.
The goal of her research is to identify and explain how various social-psychological processes reproduce structures of gender inequality. In particular, she studies how gendered expectations differentially shape the everyday experiences of men and women, or boys and girls, in achievement oriented settings, such as school and work, and how these seemingly small, quote, "small", inequalities are magnified through institutional environments in ways that contribute to reproducing or lessening more macro forms of gender inequality, such as gender segregation of paid work or the wage penalty that women incur in the labor market.
And then Melissa Thomas-Hunt is an assistant professor of management and organizations at the Johnson School of Management. She's been at Cornell since 2000. And she received her PhD from Northwestern University in 1997 and did her BS in engineering at Princeton. And her research activities focus on conflict management, negotiation, and team management processes. Her current research examines the contribution of expertise within diverse groups and effects of relationships on negotiation processes and outcomes. So go for it.
JOAN S. BAIZER: Thank you. I want to again thank Emily for all of her energy, persistence, and hard work in putting this book together. She's done a fabulous job. And I would also, of course, like to thank Cornell for deciding to publish the book. They have also done a fabulous job. And extra special thanks to the designer of the book cover, which is really fabulous.
OK, so let me give you a little bit of both my professional and personal history. I don't remember how I first heard about this project. I think it was through an email to the Association for Women in Science. So it was one of these viral spread of the initial email.
And when I saw the email, I thought that there were two aspects of my experience that were different enough that it might be worth writing about. One was that I was a single mom and I had chosen to be a single mom. And the second was that my child is developmentally disabled. So very different motherhood experience from what most people have.
All right, so I always knew from forever that I was going to get a PhD. I knew I was going to get a PhD long before I knew what a PhD was and certainly long before I had any idea what I was going to get a PhD in. My dad had a PhD in chemistry, was a research chemist. And basically, all of my aunts and uncles in that generation had PhDs, including one aunt with a PhD in chemistry, the first woman PhD in chemistry from Penn, and another with a PhD in physics.
I actually had no interest in science when I was in high school. Science was leaf collections and bug collections. That was biology. It seemed like a completely and totally dead discipline. I had no idea that there were actually experiments. I don't think our biology teacher, Mr. Koppavigo, who was also the wrestling coach, had any idea either.
And at any rate, I entered college as an English-German major, and then discovered science in the form of experimental psychology, the kind of psychology that now really would be called neuroscience. But then it was experimental psychology. And I decided to go on to graduate school in psychology. I finally figured out what that PhD was going to be in.
At about the same time, I made the rather unwise decision to marry a high school boyfriend. We had been conducting a long distance relationship. I was in college on the East Coast. He was in college on the West Coast. But we decided we would marry.
So his choice of graduate school, where he was accepted in physics, that was MIT in Boston, determined my choice of graduate school, which was Brown University in Providence. So we had to commute. He did the commuting. He was a theoretician and could go in-- had to go in to work, to school, less often than I did since it was an experimental program.
So this was 1968. It was a really strong surge of feminism, of feminist ideas. I was certainly aware of discrimination against women in science in the past. This was still the era when, when you went for a graduate school interview, you would be asked your marriage plans. You might even be asked what form of birth control you were using. That happened, not to me. But it certainly happened to people that I talked to.
And somehow I thought, well, since this was all out in the open now, it was going to be different for us. I was going to be able to have a career. I was going to be able to have a family. It was going to be possible to do it, to do it all, since everyone knew what the problems had been. And the problems were going to end. And I think we'll hear over and over again today that that was a really naive and misguided belief.
So we both got PhDs. We both then moved to Washington, DC for postdocs. And my marriage was gradually disintegrating over the time that we were in graduate school. And it really fell apart during our postdoc periods.
So I completed a postdoc. And then took a job as medical school faculty in Buffalo, New York, leaving my husband behind. And we were separated, and then eventually divorced. So I was 30 years old, new city, new job, on my own for the very first time. I got married three days after I graduated from college.
So I certainly devoted a lot of time and energy to the lab, to the career. However, I also was increasingly concerned about having a family. At age 30, I assumed that husband number two would arrive promptly and I would have another chance at marriage and another chance at family life and children.
I found the job a bit of a struggle. I did manage to get tenure. It wasn't easy, but I did get tenure. And with tenure, a secure job, and approaching the age of 40, I made the decision that I would have a child on my own. This was a very difficult decision. There was a lot of agonizing. A lot of the agonizing was over what do I tell the child about daddy, and what are my colleagues going to say, and can I do this? But I really, really, really wanted a child.
So I systematically investigated donor insemination and became pregnant, actually quite easily through donor insemination even though I was 39 at that time. And I had very naive ideas about what having a baby and a career would mean. I thought, OK, I have a job. I have money, enough money. You just hire baby sitters, right, no problem,
And every-- I'm sure. I think maybe people now are not that naive. But I certainly was. I just continued going to work, showing up pregnant. I think there were a lot of rumors that the dad was a co-worker and friend of mine. The dad was not a co-worker and friend of mine. The dad was ident number-- that's the sperm bank-- 524 or something like that.
But I didn't really discuss it with anybody. I didn't discuss it with the chair. I didn't-- I just showed up at work pregnant, and eventually showed up at work with an infant.
At that time, right after Jessy was born, I was really running down in research ideas and creativity. And I really wanted to make a change in research direction. So I arranged to go on sabbatical when she was only about six months old.
I went to do a sabbatical at the NIH, with people that I knew, and who themselves had a small child, only slightly older than Jessica. So I thought that they would be sympathetic to my-- I was perfectly happy to work eight hour days, but I wasn't going to work 12 hour days. And I wasn't going to work weekends, and neither were they. So that was fine.
So the sabbatical was actually very good. I was able to find family daycare for my daughter. And I was able to do a lot in the lab. However, during that year I found out that there was a problem with my daughter. She was-- the euphemism is developmentally delayed. And that was really discovered on a routine pediatrician visit.
What that means is that all of the developmental milestones, like when do you roll over, when do you sit up, when do you crawl, when do you walk, she was way, way, way behind on all of those. So I knew there was a problem. I did not know what the problem was. And I didn't know what was going to happen.
I should say that the one developmental milestone she met on time was that at age of one month, she smiled at me. And, yeah, that's it a really important one. Somebody has said that the human race probably wouldn't have survived if your babies didn't smile-- and maybe smile. You've gone through this unbelievable month. And at least you know-- well, maybe the service hasn't been so bad after all. Maybe I'm doing something OK.
So I came back to Buffalo after a year, a very good year, intending to continue research and change research direction using what I had done on the sabbatical. However, Jessica was not progressing developmentally. And I spent more and more time trying to get a diagnosis for her and a prognosis for her. I finally got the diagnosis for her when she was 2. And this is after well over a dozen visits to different doctors.
The diagnosis is an extremely rare neurological disorder, called hypomelanosis of Ito, which nobody has ever heard and most physicians had not heard of. And hypomelanosis of Ito causes abnormal brain development. For my daughter, this means mental retardation. She is now almost 21, hard for me to believe, but she is. But she's cognitively maybe about three or four years old.
She can't read. She can't count. She is verbal. She is social. But she's really like a very small child.
So, in fact, in the disabilities world, mental retardation is not that hard to take care of. But Jessica, in addition-- and this goes with the disorder-- has epilepsy. She has an uncontrollable seizure disorder. Uncontrollable means she's been on every seizure med there is. And she has two, three, four seizures a week, regardless of medications.
And she also has what-- again, in the disability world, the politically correct term is challenging behaviors. What that means is she will say no, hit, kick, scratch, pull hair, temper tantrums. If you ask her to do something, she doesn't want to do, if her brain is disturbed because she's had a seizure or she's going to have a seizure, or-- there are random jolts of electricity basically going through her brain. There's abnormal electricity all the time.
So seizures and challenging behaviors are extremely difficult to manage. So as a young child, her behavior was not that bad. And the seizures were moderately well controlled with drugs. As she got older, and became close to adolescence, and then in adolescence, an adolescent, both of these got much, much, much worse.
She was having frequent seizures. She was having very difficult behaviors a lot of the time. So what you have now is an 11-, 12-, 13-year-old, that size body, but essentially a two-year-old having a temper tantrum a lot of the time. I mean, I described her adolescence as hormones of a teenager, self-control of a two-year-old, cognitive ability of a three-year-old. So it was a complete and total nightmare.
So arranging school and after-school care for her became incredibly difficult. No one wants to be hit, or kicked, or scratched. Nobody wants to deal with a child who is noncompliant, who says no and doesn't do what you tell her to do, whether it's stand up, or put on her coat, or whatever it is. Caregivers are terrified of seizures.
So between these two, I had to keep changing her school placement. She was kicked out of various programs. I kept-- I wanted her in an after-school program. I wanted the socialization. I was committed to working full-time, but that became essentially impossible.
So I was called to pick her up from school or from after-school because she'd had a seizure, couldn't go on the bus; because she'd had a temper tantrum and hit someone. There was one time when she hit a teacher and the teacher ended up with a bloody nose. And Jessica was basically expelled from that school and that program.
So my life turned into basically taking care of this child. There were several calls to meet the ambulance at the emergency room because she had had a seizure. And she has the kind of seizure where you fall over. You just fall flat over. There are no postural reflexes. There's no protective reflexes. So she had a number of falls, where she was cut and needed stitches. And I eventually did get a helmet for her, which she still wears.
So during this whole time I continued with my full teaching load. I never once canceled a lecture. I was never once late to a lecture. And that often meant that I had to do extremely complicated and extremely expensive arrangements to make sure I could get to my teaching.
So, for example, I had some 8:00 AM lectures to medical students that were assigned. And the night before those lectures I would pay the son of a friend of mine to come stay over in the house. In the morning, I would be OK, I could get to lecture if the school bus was on time and if Jessica was cooperative, got up, got dressed, took her medicine, got on the bus. If the bus was late, or if she had a seizure, or if she had a temper tantrum, there was no way I was going to be able to get to lecture.
So I needed a backup. And that was true for a lot of things that I absolutely had to do. It also during this time absolutely never occurred to me to ask for a reduction in teaching load because of personal circumstances. I thought that showing up for lectures was part of my job, and part of my responsibility, and that personal circumstances were not relevant.
A couple of years ago, I was on a tenure and promotions committee and read a letter from the chair explaining that a male candidate's teaching load had been very much reduced because he was the custodial parent of an autistic child. And this was a total revelation to me, that this had been done for a male colleague, but it certainly had not been done, certainly had not been done for me.
So Jessica's adolescence was very close to impossible. I finally found a group home placement for her when she was just about 17. And the only reason-- the only way I was able to find a group home placement, because a lot of the services for disabilities found her just as difficult to deal with as I did-- a lot of the services for disabilities for children with MR, with mental retardation, are designed around the stereotypical, largely non-existent, stereotypical child with Down syndrome, where you have mental retardation, you have no medical issues, and you have no behavior issues.
So Jessica had mental retardation. And that is really the easy part. But the other two components meant she was kicked out of a lot of programs for kids with different disabilities. Didn't want seizures and they really didn't want to deal with quote, "behaviors." Challenging behaviors gets abbreviated to, quote, "behaviors."
So I had not wanted to place her in a group home that early. I had really thought, well, you take care of your child until leave home between 18 and 21. That's certainly what I had intended to do. But I think, as I mentioned to maybe Marilyn this morning, about the third time that in order to get Jessica on the bus for school, I literally dragged her out of the house by her ankle onto the back porch because she was refusing to go. And she was hitting me and she was kicking me.
And it wasn't that she didn't want to go to school. She liked school. Her behavior at school was actually better than her behavior with me. It was just anything I wanted her to do, she was not going to do.
I realized the situation was not safe for her. It was not safe for me. I really needed help. I was a single mom. I simply couldn't do it.
And we were turned down by a number of programs. I eventually called the office of our local state assemblyman. And he intervened with the state commissioner of Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. And all of a sudden, where there had been no group home placements, now there were four places that were offered to us.
And I took the best of those. It was not perfect. And she has recently, just a month ago, moved into a much better situation, that I developed, along with the parents of some other young women of roughly Jessica's level of function, roughly her age. And parents that I had become friends with through various recreational programs that we'd all had our kids in.
So Jessica has been in a group home for about four years now. And I want to talk a little bit about the way that being the mother of this child has affected both me personally and me as an academic and a scientist. The experiences with Jessica were just overwhelming and really profoundly changed me in ways that-- completely unpredictable.
So taking care of Jessica and meeting other parents of disabled children and other disabled children, first of all, really changed my view of what is valuable in people. I mentioned that I came from a family where my dad and all my aunts and uncles had PhDs. So these are all-- the background is Jewish intellectual, Russian immigrant background. And basically in my family, one's worth as a person has been considered roughly equivalent to one's IQ. Everyone talks about how bright people are. That's the standard.
And I, in fact, selected the sperm donor to be bright. And I really expected to have a bright child. Before I had my daughter, I'd never known anyone with mental retardation. I'd really not known anyone with any disability.
Growing up the disabled kids were sent to separate schools. You really never saw anyone. I don't think I saw an individual with Down syndrome until after my daughter was born. It was just a totally different universe.
And so one thing that happened is I tried to combine my education and my experiences with Jessica. And my education was in neuroscience, was in brain function. And I have spent a lot of time trying to do advocacy for children with disabilities and work with parents of children with disabilities.
So I've met a lot of people with whom I would otherwise have had no contact. This is a world that is totally different from the academic world. And one of the things that I have done is try to learn to translate what the experts are saying. That is, say, a committee for special education meeting, where you hear a lot of jargon from OTs, and PTs, and special education teachers, try to translate to parents who are loving and concerned about their children, but are completely overwhelmed by the situation and have no idea what they're being told about their kid. So I've done a lot of advocacy.
And again, this is really a different universe from the universe that most academics inhabit. And I have an example of this. A contrast, which was a few years ago I spent a morning as a parent advocate on a committee for special education meetings, where you discuss all of the cases of kids that are being proposed for special education.
So one case was a boy who was not doing well in school and seemed depressed. And did he need maybe reading room or did he need a special education class? Well, we talked about it a little more and found out, while the parents weren't at this meeting, the boy was living with his grandmother. And, in fact, his mother was dead and his father was in jail. And that's why he was living with his grandmother. The father was in jail because he had killed the mother.
So here we have a kid who clearly needs a whole entire new life, not just a special education class. And this was resolved. The schools did the best they could for him. But clearly, this is just an unbelievably horrible situation.
OK, in contrast, the next night I went out to dinner with a friend of mine, who is faculty in the math department. And her concern for that day was a dinner she'd attended the night before with a visiting seminar speaker. And they had gone out to dinner with the speaker, a group of faculty, at Buffalo's best restaurant. And she was very upset because at that dinner the chairman had chosen to order the wine and had not let the guest speaker order the wine. And there just couldn't have been a more dramatic contrast between perspective, between experiences, between what's really important.
So that was really one very profound lesson. It's a world outside the academic world. And there are concerns that are really life and death concerns, whereas I think some of the time the academic concerns-- and I think I said this to you or to our meetings-- to decide which side of the room the coffee pot should be on. Anybody who's been in academics knows-- I mean, of course, it won't be that. But it's not that far.
So what about the science part? Well, obviously taking care of Jessica-- just severely, severely limited research time and energy. The energy that I had went into doing my teaching.
I'm still an associate professor. I've been an associate professor for more than 20 years. Since Jessica has moved out, however, I have had renewed interest and renewed energy in science. I'm now in the lab a lot. I am really working at the level that you work as a post-doc or as a young assistant professor. And I'm really liking the work.
I have developed a number of collaborations. And I enjoy the collaborations, both for the science and for the social interactions, very much. And I should say that I think these collaborations are possible for me partly because of all of the skills I acquired in advocating for Jessica and learning how to work with the school people and the disabilities world people, to try to figure out what I could do for her. These were not skills that I came to the job with at all. These are not things I had learned as a graduate student or a post-doc.
So I'm doing science. I'm publishing two or three papers a year. I'm going to meetings.
However, I have had several small grants. And I'm doing research that is funded through these collaborations. But I'm not back to where people at my career chronology should be. I don't have a big NIH grant. It's fairly unlikely I will ever get a big NIH grant.
And it was on those grounds that my attempt at promotion to full professor was turned down last year. I mean, I said, look, I'm publishing. I'm working in the lab. I'm an editor for a journal. And the way I put it is, the written criterion for promotion is scholarship, not dollarship. But I think in my university, if you don't have a grant, if you don't have a big NIH grant, you don't get promoted to full professor regardless.
So some of the time-- I would say, a lot of the time-- I am happy with what I'm doing at work. I understand how I got to be where I am. And it's certainly not a route that I chose, but that's the route that I ended up on.
Some of the time I do feel that I have essentially failed as a scientist. And last year, a college classmate of mine, Drew Gilpin Faust, was appointed president of Harvard. I was absolutely delighted for her. I was absolutely delighted for all women. But the career contrast was rather a major one. And I certainly was aware of that.
So to summarize, I know my experiences as a mom, first choosing to be a single mom, and then raising a disabled and very, very difficult child, are quite different from what most science moms are trying to do. And it's not what I imagined. But what I've been thinking about a lot is in a way how little has changed since 1968, when I thought, with that wave of feminism, with the awareness of discrimination against women in science--
In fact, at one of my graduate school interviews, the guy was very cheerful. And said, well, we like you a lot. Good luck. But we are prejudiced against women, of course. And this was a perfectly OK thing to say. I think most of these guys know not to say that anymore, even though I think they still think it.
Any at any rate, I'm not sure how much has changed. About the time I was writing this chapter, I went to a farewell reception for a guy in my department, who was leaving UB, leaving Buffalo to take a job elsewhere. And our chairman gave a little speech, in which he characterized this guy as the ideal faculty member because he always worked, every day, every night, seven days a week, weekends, holidays, all the time.
The chairman did not mention that this man had a wife and small children at home. And I wanted to say, would this guy even recognize his children if he saw them walking down the street? So is this still the definition of the ideal faculty member? And if it is, and it certainly is in the mind of my chairman, then no one who wants to be a mom, including mothers of much easier children, nor dads, who want to show up at the school play or the soccer game, are going to be considered ideal or possibly even acceptable faculty members.
And I really wonder, especially after reading these essays, is this the career model that we're going to have forever or is there any chance that it's going to change? OK.
EMILY MONOSSON: Thanks.
SHELLEY CORRELL: Yeah. So there was a little bit of a-- we weren't exactly sure what we were going to be doing here, whether or not it was going to be more of a discussion or kind of a Q&A with the audience. But I could say a few things, I suppose. And let me at least say-- I guess we could just say at least who we are, what we bring to the table. And we can open it up to the audience as well.
So I'm Shelley Correll. I'm a sociology professor here at Cornell. And I'm also one of the co-directors of Cornell's Advance Center, which is a center that's received a large grant from the National Science Foundation to do things to increase the representation of women on the faculty of science and engineering.
And I'll say, because I think it's relevant to this, I'm not a mother. And why I was asked to be on this panel I think is because of my involvement with the Cornell Advance Center and sort of thinking about what organizations can do to lessen some of the difficulties that women, mothers-- and I think in particular mothers in science-- have with balancing careers as an academic scientist.
I mean, also I think I was asked to be here because I've done quite a bit of research on discrimination against mothers in the labor market. And so in some way, some of the things that I study are more similar I think to the experience Gina has had and will be talking to you about here in the next panel.
So in my own work, I've looked at how stereotypes about mothers and the incompatibility of motherhood with workplace roles leads to discrimination against mothers. And one thing that really struck me as I was reading this book, the various essays in this book, which I highly recommend, is how for women-- while all mothers in the workplace face some difficulties in coordinating work and family, it seems to me like that the lab really looms large here. And really exacerbates things in a way that makes it even more difficult for women who are scientists. And what I would I mean when I say the lab, is both sort of the physical reality of the lab and what I might refer to as the culture of the lab. I mean, you've alluded to the culture of the lab here in your comments.
The physical reality being, for scientists a lot of the work has to happen in a specific place. There's not the easy flexibility. You can't just take your experiments home with you in the way that I think a lot of us in other disciplines can take more stuff home with us. So there's a sort of physical constraint of needing to be in the lab, which, of course, takes time, as does raising children. But the thing that really struck me in the comments towards the end of your thing, and some of the others, is what we might call the culture of the lab. And that is this sort of valuing of heroic hours beyond what is necessary to probably get the work done.
So here, as Joan was just describing, if we think of sort of the highly valued, sort of stereotypical scientist, he-- and I'll say he-- he is this guy who's sort of single-mindedly obsessed with the science, is in the lab all the time, and sort of bragging about being there and when he's there. And I think to some extent, while the women in this book have found some just amazingly creative, sort of survival strategies, what I really feel we need to be doing here as well is sort of critiquing this very idea, that people sort of need to be in the lab all the time.
What we know from the research on face time in general at work, is that face time, being there, is not necessarily correlated with heightened productivity. And this is something I always feel like we can relate to, those days when you've been at work sort of all day long, but what are you doing? You're checking your email, surfing the web, not necessarily doing the work.
And how much of this face time is really necessary? Because if there's this expectation that people be there, and that being there really isn't even translating into extra productivity or whatever, then why do we even have this idea in the first place? And so I think that's important.
And this is interesting, too, because this sort of idea of the stereotypical scientist, as you put out, is also something that-- it kind of comes through with a bit of anxiety. And a lot of the women express, how am I really a scientist? And Emily, I was thinking, even in your introduction, when you're talking about who to include in the book, you sort of struggle with that definition because the definition that you've been given as you go through graduate school is this very narrow one. So I'm trying to expand that definition.
And let me just finish with kind of one more us set of comments. And I want to just, if you don't mind, just say a few things. I really think that what we need to be doing too is sort of pushing organizations to try to change the workplace or to do things in the workplace, where this many individual women aren't having to find individual solutions to balancing work and family. And I'd like to just say a few things that we're doing here at Cornell, some of these through the Cornell Advance Center, but certainly broader efforts than that, that I think are really important.
And so I'll just mention three of those. First is-- one thing that's been done is to give a tenure clock extension to assistant professors, who are going to be full-time caregivers of children. So that usually a tenure clock for an academic is six years. It gets extended by a year. And importantly, a change that's been made is that this is now something that's given automatically. It doesn't have to be negotiated.
And I think this also reminds me of some of your comments, where teaching reduction really would have helped you. But in order to do that, you would have to gone in and asked for it. And going in and asking for it, I think it makes you feel like I should be able to handle this on my own.
JOAN S. BAIZER: That's absolutely what I thought, yes.
SHELLEY CORRELL: And especially for women, mothers, who are already worried that people are going to think less of them because they're a mother and sort of doubt their workplace commitment. If you have to go in and say, I'm pregnant, how is that going to be read? Is it going to be read as, oh, see, you really aren't very committed? So to have these kind of policies in place, without asking, without people having to ask, I think is crucially important.
Another thing we're doing here that I think is also crucially important is increasing the volume of campus daycare that's on the campus, and especially infant daycare, which tends to be the hardest to find. And women cannot afford to just be at home, until their child gets out of the noninfant stage, and have an academic career. I've been pushing that the daycare should be even more convenient than that. I keep saying at Cornell, I don't know why we're building all these new science buildings, with all this space for all these things, and not putting daycare in the science buildings. Wouldn't that be lovely, to have them right there, in the buildings where people are working?
JOAN S. BAIZER: It's so important that it be affordable for people--
SHELLEY CORRELL: Exactly.
JOAN S. BAIZER: --postdoc or graduate students.
SHELLEY CORRELL: That's exactly right, so that it's extended to-- it's extended to students, to graduate students, and postdocs as well.
And the final thing that I think that we're doing here is trying to do some training with people who evaluate assistant professors, to reduce the kinds of biases and discrimination that my work and the work of others have shown that mothers face-- and that you're going to hear a very compelling story about here later. And after reading this book, and initially reading your essay idea, I was really thinking that this training that we've been doing about reducing the bias against faculty, who are women in faculty or mothers, should be extended to postdocs, and graduate students as well, who sometimes, as you were just saying with daycare, fall through some of the cracks.
So anyway, I'll be quiet now. Except that I want to-- Emily, I want to thank you very much for doing this book. I really appreciate the stories in the book. And think that there's a whole lot in academic science, but also in any kind of sort of high status career, there's a whole lot of pretending that these issues are simply not there. And what that pretending does is force women to sort have to figure out individual solutions to these problems.
And when you read this-- when you read all these creative, sort of individual solutions, you really realize that it's a widespread issue, that should be dealt with organizationally. People shouldn't have to be doing all the kind of creative things that people are doing here. So I really appreciate you sort of making this more visible.
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: My name is Melissa Thomas-Hunt. And I'm a faculty member in the Johnson School. So I live sort of on the frontier of social science and corporate America, which I think becomes relevant and has helped me to-- has helped formulate the lens that I use to think about the work that I do.
Just to tell you a little bit about myself, I've been in academia now probably close to 15 years, including my doctoral training. I started with an interest in negotiations. And I think that's very important because that fundamentally frames the way in which I see almost every situation. I'm constantly investigating and pushing people to think about what their own interests are, what the interests of the other parties are, how they can frame what they want in light of what other parties also want. And I think that has very profound implications for motherhood and scientists.
I have three young children. So my youngest is 3 and 1/2. I have a seven-year-old and I have a 10-and-1/2-year-old. And I am married. And I am finishing up my round as a junior faculty member and will be on the senior faculty member side of things in future, in the future shortly.
So because I live in a business school, and as my work has evolved, I've really become interested in how organizations can make the most of the human capital that they have at their disposal. It sort of sounds very technical. But organizations, it resonates-- that language resonates with them. So what are the factors that get in the way of their being able to identify actually who has expertise, who are the best and the brightest individuals, and how can they tap into that knowledge and leverage it? And so that's often the way I present my work to organizations, how can you become better and perform at higher levels as there are increasing demands in organizational environments?
And the flip-side of that though, and perhaps the side that I care more about, is given the constraints and the myopia of organizations as it exists today, how can individuals make sure that their expertise is being recognized? And how can they make contributions that allow them to be influential and get recognized and go on and have successful careers?
On the organizational side, the interesting thing is that it seems that corporate America is leading our leading educational institutions. In large part, I would argue that that's because they get profit. And they understand that as we go forward, that in many instances there's actually going to be a shortage of human capital. And so it's their job to put in place processes that will allow them to identify the absolute best and brightest because it's absolutely relevant to their ability to be able to be successful and generate profit and money.
And so, in particular, when you look at the millennial generation now, organizations, corporations, are being faced with a situation where the millennials are no longer saying that the organizations get to dictate the rules and regulations of work life. They're saying that even if I'm going to go into finance or going to go into corporate life, I want to find other ways of giving back to the community.
And so very prestigious and profit-driven organizations are now trying to find ways of incorporating sort of sabbaticals or paid periods of leave, where individuals can go off and explore other interests. Recognizing that the pool of millennials, that in order to tap into the best and the brightest of them, they have to offer-- they have to help them to configure their lives in the ways in which they want to configure them. And so one of the things that I say is that when we think about educational institutions, we have to help educational institutions to understand that they too need to put in place processes that will allow them to identify, and promote, and support those who are truly expert. And those who are truly expert have many configurations to their lives.
And so the interesting thing is that the additional capacity that I serve in here is as a faculty in residence. And so I'm the faculty person who actually is affiliated and lives across the street from the all-women's freshman dormitory. So not all freshmen women live there, but 350 women live there, and many of whom are avidly pursuing careers in science.
And as I have conversations with them about what their expectations are about the future, that in many ways they're as naive as my own expectations were. And that they believe that their professional lives and their personal lives are going to be very segmented, often taking turns, and having very little understanding of the challenges that they may face. And so part of my negotiation lens always turns me back to getting people information.
And so to the extent that these stories get shared with future generations-- because they tend to be more empowered and willing to ask for what they want, but they need to know what they need to be asking for. And they need to know what the challenges are that they're going to be facing. And so getting the information in their hands I think will then allow them to push on organizations, so that organizations change some of their policies.
The other thing that I also want to say, as I read through many of the essays-- and they were extremely compelling and informed my own experiences-- with my negotiations hat on, I thought about the notion of asking for what you want. And so in order to ask for what you want, it means you have to be willing to stand up. You also have to have a sense of what's the realm of possibility, and so talking to as many people as possible.
We know-- and there's work by a number of researchers that has found that women tend not to ask. And that, in fact, there are actually some very rational reasons why women don't ask. That when they ask, and the perception is that what they're asking for is for their own individualistic needs, that they actually get punished more than when men ask. What tends to mitigate that though is when their requests are framed as being for someone else or being toward the benefit of the larger good.
And so that goes back to, there are organizational issues and there are individual issues. And on the individual side, where I think we can more readily help people to understand what they're facing, helping them to use a negotiation framework, asking for help at home, from friends, from support networks, from their institutions.
EMILY MONOSSON: Thank you. I think at this point we can open up for comment. I will say that one of the things that I actually got out of doing this, as I went along I never asked. I always said, I'll figure it out because part-- I would have loved to have had a part-time tenure track position. And there are those now.
JOAN S. BAIZER: Yeah, there are.
EMILY MONOSSON: Although I know that some universities that are starting them, don't really know how to do them. And faculty are concerned about how they'll be perceived and how people in those positions will be perceived. But I would have never thought of even suggesting it at the time when I started, and I figured out.
One things through reading, through all the essays that people did right, when they came in, was that a few of the authors made it very clear that they asked-- some of them asked for what they want. And some of them made sure that they knew what the realm of possibility was and that they knew what the non-negotiables were. And so they knew where to push and where not to push. And it's something, that when I read that, I sort of wish I had these women giving me these suggestions back when I was starting out. So I think it's really important. I know that.
So any questions, comments? We can go back there.
AUDIENCE: Hi. I'm Sharon South. I'm a faculty member in policy analysis. And I really enjoyed the talk. And I'm looking forward to reading the book.
I guess I have a question that relates to what if-- we had a speaker come in about professional women in modern science, who opted out. And she concluded by talking on-ramps-- possible on-ramps back for women who have left the labor force. And I have a fair number-- I'm relatively new here-- but I have a fair number of friends who have been in sciences and left when they had children, or are not in faculty line positions. And I don't know if any of them are here. I know some of them are planning to come at some point during the day.
Is there anything that advance-- or are can you can anybody address what might be doing to on-ramp these women back on because the government has spent considerable money educating them to start with. And once they leave, they feel like that door is closed. And it shouldn't be.
JOAN S. BAIZER: I think it would be very difficult to get back in as a tenure track faculty person because-- for example, in my place, when you're hiring a scientist, you need a set-up package of literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. And what my department is looking for is, just out of first or second postdoc people, who are going to bring in a ton of NIH money, and who are being treated as a sort of long-term investment. So I think the on-ramp is going to have to be into different lanes basically.
SHELLEY CORRELL: No. I would like to see there be some kind of room for this. And there are sort of women's science organizations who've really committed some money to helping women who have been out of the science labor force, get back in. So far-- I mean, I think Joan's exactly right. They're getting back into industry or getting back into other places, not into academia.
But this is really something-- I mean, I think if we're serious about increasing the representation of women on the faculty in science and engineering, we should be willing to be thinking about this. And the National Science Foundation I think should be willing to support some of this kind of stuff.
And when we think it's not possible-- I'd like to point out a place where something similar does happen. And that is all over the country, schools of information science are springing up. These are departments that are focusing on the internet, and telecommunications, all this kind of stuff. And they are hiring faculty left and right, who've been working at Google, who've been working here or there, and have not had faculty experience, don't have a traditional vita.
And they're willing to do it. And I think they're probably willing to do it because I imagine those people will still be able to bring in money, right. I mean, with their past connections.
But there are spaces where universities have brought in people, who've had sort of a less than conventional career path. And this would be-- this is a great untapped resource. Because, as you said earlier, these are not just disappearing. They're out there. They're doing other things. And if there's a chance to come back in, that might bring more women back.
JOAN S. BAIZER: I mean there's a long tradition of science couples, where he runs the lab. He gets the grants. And she works as a research associate in his lab. I mean that's certainly was going on for years, and years, and years.
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: It still goes on.
JOAN S. BAIZER: And still goes on, right. And he gets all the credit and the appointment.
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: A recurring pitch.
EMILY MONOSSON: And someone was saying? I was just going to add, there actually is an NIH program specifically for that. And one of the authors has done that, Pia Abola.
She'd been out for five years. And she got back into the lab. And it was to jump-start and get women back in. And her chapter is there. And there's the link to that program.
And I'll also add that I had a-- NSF did have a program like that. It was called the Power Grants. And I think it was before the Advance--
SHELLEY CORRELL: So they still had the same program. It's a slightly different name at this point.
EMILY MONOSSON: Yeah. It was Professional Opportunities for Women in Research and Engineering, maybe. And I had applied for that. And I got a Power Grant. And it was to get women back into science after they'd either taken off for family or for people who want to redirect their careers.
I had to-- I knew that I didn't want a tenure track position. And I knew that I-- at that point I'd worked independently. And it's just in my nature now to--
I had to convince the program officer, after they had already approved the grant, that I could-- he said, are you going to be able to slide into a tenure track position from that? And I said, no. And I don't want to.
And I had to convince him. And I had to-- I was at Mount Holyoke College at the time. And I had have them talk to them as well, to convince them that at least I could still contribute. And I could do something, even though I had no plans to be in a tenure track position. I think that that's a problem right there. I think that there ought to be a recognition that there are other ways of doing useful contributions.
JOAN S. BAIZER: I think academic settings are very, very rigid.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: You know, I would just add too that you're saying you're in policy. I don't what kind of policy. But Emily mentioned the AAAS fellowship program, which is a policy program. And I participated in that program as well. It's not exactly the same thing. But it is for mid-career types of people. Or maybe it could be just fairly recently, I would think, and so forth.
But it is a chance for people to-- actually, as much as anything in the tenure thing, to maybe apply their skills to policy areas and so forth. So they may be scientists who are not actively working at the bench anymore. But then who have generic skills in their specific area that would be useful applying to policy.
And so things like that can be like another-- getting together with other people who have a similar background, a new sort of learning experience. It's sort of the chance to like re-enter, as we would use the metaphor on that. So I think more things like that are actually possibilities also.
AUDIENCE: Why do you think universities--
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: But that's not restricted to women at all.
SHELLEY CORRELL: Well, I think universities, more than sort of people outside the university-- they're filled with people who've gone through a very traditional path. And there's lots of people that think that's the way to do things. And so anything-- you get some resistance. When you're trying to modify things on the campus, anything that looks like it's going to create any deviation from this sort of stereotypical, academic, kind of always there, have no family kind of thing, there's pushback to.
And I think it's just because you have so many people here, who-- that's what they did. Therefore, they see it as the model. Where outside of academia, people have-- there's a lot more variety in the way people got to where they are, would be my guess.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: I would like to make a brief point-- sorry-- is one way to avoid that break is by, first of all, talking about it, like we're doing right now, having mentors who you aren't afraid to go talk to. And when you're finishing up your PhD, don't publish right away. Save your papers. And then leak them out over the year that you are raising your one-year-old. And then you have this beautiful continuation of publications. And then you jump into the workforce.
And so no one knows you necessarily took a year off. You can become a research associate at your graduate institution. So you still have that letterhead and everything.
So I think a lot of it is working the system. But you can't work the system unless you don't talk about it. And you get advice from other faculty members and stuff. And so I think there's a lot of wiggle room in academia. But when you feel you're all alone, and you're afraid to talk about it, you can't get that, unfortunately.
EMILY MONOSSON: In the blue shirt. Sorry.
AUDIENCE: Yeah. My question sort of follows up the on-ramp question. And I'm wondering if there's more age discrimination against women than men because at my PhD printing institution, I saw two men do that. They'd taken off 10 years. One was, like, an architect, one was a jazz musician. I don't know what he was.
And they were know in their 40s. And they were applying for their first tenure track position. And it was, quote, sort of "really cool" that they had done these other things. But I have yet to see a woman who has done that.
SHELLEY CORRELL: It is very common. Age discrimination is more common women, in general, across the board. And I think partly this comes about because people draw on stereotypes about women and motherhood. And already suspect that women, probably because they're going to be mothers, or mothers because they are, are less committed to their jobs.
And so once you think somebody is less committed to their job, you tend to really scrutinize everything about them a lot more carefully. So you notice, oh, look at how old this person is. Where somebody that you weren't suspicious of, presents the same profile. And you don't really pay attention to it or you put a positive spin on it. But it is true that women appear old more quickly than men do.
AUDIENCE: I think there are a lot of factors, stereotypes, et cetera, in society that tend to crimp everyone's career. It's all-- on-ramp problems, all these things that have been mentioned have affected various people I know, including sometimes myself at various times. But what seems to me is the situation is that women in science, and especially mothers in science, all these various factors that crimp the career, all seem to impose themselves on that subgroup to a greater extent than maybe various other groups in society. So I view any work done to try to ameliorate these problems for the group of mothers in science as a lever into trying to ameliorate these problems for us all.
SHELLEY CORRELL: Yeah, I agree. Yeah. It's an excellent point, yeah. All people have families, and caregiving responsibilities, and the kind of things that we need to coordinate with our work lives.
And we see-- I think you're right. It's much more visible with mothers. But to the extent that you start doing things that help mothers integrate their careers, it's going to have all kinds of spillover effects because the great majority of people have caregiving responsibilities, at least at some point in time in their life, either for elderly parents or for children.
EMILY MONOSSON: Yes?
AUDIENCE: What's in place to protect women from something like pushback?
SHELLEY CORRELL: [INAUDIBLE] discrimination.
AUDIENCE: I'm sure it's a very difficult position to move forward, with discrimination and then with fear that they'll be pushed back or that it will effect the career. You won't be hired again somewhere else. Is there an organization, is there collections, is there any solidarity?
JOAN S. BAIZER: You're only going to hear it. There's just great stories. Do you want say something to that effect? I just feel like Gina's [INAUDIBLE].
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: I'll be talking more about it. But yes, there are. Some of the hard part is trying to find one. And in the academic world there's a lot of cracks that open up. And you don't realize you're under a crack until it all happens.
And also sometimes it takes contacts to get the kind of protection-- you know, they won't take your call if you're just Joe Schmo. And so it's a difficult game. And you have to be very proactive. No one is going to hold your hand. And so there is a lot of cracks and difficulties.
And equal opportunity, yeah, they have some nice, beautiful statement. But postdocs, graduate students, it's very much still kind of a feudal system. And it takes the benevolence of your dictator for you to proceed, whether or not there is some nice law out there protecting you. Sometimes that means absolutely nothing.
EMILY MONOSSON: Any other-- I think-- but you're also growing up when you're talking about the benevolent of your dictator. And in academia, I think a lot of it is also cultural changing. And some women have written, in role models.
And a couple of women did write about role models. Some of them had great role models and others couldn't find a role model that was anybody, whether it is a male or a female. And some of them wrote about women being almost as difficult or worse than the men, that had been their mentors or their bosses, and how important it is for the culture to change at all levels in both men and women.
SHELLEY CORRELL: So it's right. And there are laws that protect against various forms of discrimination. But there will be cost of going forward with that. And I think the other thing that really has to happen is that, at least in academia, faculty who have tenure have got to be willing to speak up when things are happening that are discriminatory. And it's helpful when that's not just women, but it's men and women faculty.
So that when there is a discriminatory behavior or statement made, that someone steps up and says that is illegal. And I find when you say that you could shut down the comments right away. But an assistant professor can't say that. A postdoc can't say that. It's got to be the people who have the job security that are standing up. And we need-- and this is where we really have got to have men involved as well, I think.
EMILY MONOSSON: And there's another author who's not here, Marla, who is at University of Maryland. And I think she is very outspoken and has been outspoken. And it's not always been appreciated at all.
SHELLEY CORRELL: That's right. It's rarely. You could tell somebody that it is illegal. They don't usually appreciate it. I think as a tenured faculty member, it's not that's OK. You don't have to be making friends here.
EMILY MONOSSON: Right.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: I had a question on a slightly different vein. I heard this. And I haven't researched it to find out if it was true or not. During World War II-- I was hoping you might have this with your background-- when they needed women to be in the workforce, to make the war machine and everything keep going, I heard that there was a national daycare incentive. And that there were huge daycare centers opening up in order to get women into the workforce, to make the war machine. Can you speak on that? Is that true? It was obviously possible.
SHELLEY CORRELL: Right. There were all kinds of societal and cultural changes that happened when were we absolutely had to have workers. And there were no men around. So what were we going to do, but turn to women.
And that's right. So the availability-- the increasing availability of daycare, daycare at work, [INAUDIBLE] government subsidized daycare. Of course, it's very short-lived phenomenon. Men come back. Women are pushed out. And all that money goes away. And now, it would be impossible for us to be able to afford this.
What was also interesting was the sort of cultural redefinition of jobs. So like working in a factory that's building ships, they were advertising this. Women will be naturally good at this. Women have lots of manual dexterity. They make good things at home. So it's just well-suited for women.
The whole sort of building ships-- and they present it as kind of this hypermasculine activity-- on a dime, turns into something that women are naturally good at. So anything they could to get women in there. And men come back. And all of a sudden, it's redefined once again. And these are men's jobs.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Advertisements of some Susie Q. on the radio, like, oh, I can't wait to go back to the kitchen now that my husband's home.
SHELLEY CORRELL: What that shows us is the relative ease when people perceive it to be a necessity of doing things to help people with work, family, and defining jobs in such a way that we can imagine women doing them, where perhaps we couldn't have prior.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: So we've done it in the past. It's been government subsidized.
AUDIENCE: We're at war again.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: So we need to spend more money on stuff we don't need and daycare.
JOAN S. BAIZER: Yeah. Maybe the truth of the matter is we don't really want to be as productive as we could be. It has this combination in society.
EMILY MONOSSON: We have-- actually we have a break until 2:00. But I guess there's--
AUDIENCE: What time is it?
EMILY MONOSSON: It's 1:30. I don't know if there's any-- yeah?
AUDIENCE: So I am actually a social scientist, not a scientist. So I'm curious to hear from some more of the scientists here about what do they think about timing of children? Because I was at the population meetings a few weeks ago, and I discussed several papers about professional women in Sweden who have more children and benefit more from family supports for having children than your average middle-class or disadvantaged woman.
So part of it has to do with timing and the whole length of the training career, but I don't know whether women are hearing from their faculty about when is an appropriate time to have children. And this is something that Melissa and I have talked about doing with undergraduate students, because they all seem to think that the ideal time is, when, after their post-- after they finish their degree. Or, maybe it's a bad--
AUDIENCE: When they're just teaching.
AUDIENCE: When they're just teaching, or when they're--
Then they'll get a sabbatical, right? But they don't understand the length of the training process, and the fertility clock, and all the [INAUDIBLE]. Is this discussed, or is it like a secret?
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: That's why this book is so important, because people talked about it. At my university, I was not about to go to talk to any professor about babies. It was no way. And so I think it's just making it OK to talk about.
EMILY MONOSSON: And I think, just judging from the-- I mean, there's women in here who are grad students who have kids that wrote. And there are women that had-- and every single one has heard something different about timing. And I think--
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] time.
AUDIENCE: There's no good time.
AUDIENCE: The question is, which balancing act do you want to do? And I know when I was in graduate school I had tenured women faculty say, oh, well, you should wait till your tenured. But of course, then if you're somebody 45--
AUDIENCE: I mean, I had friends who started-- had a break before starting graduate school. [INAUDIBLE] Yeah. I wait till I'm tenured, then I'm not having kids. So, yeah.
AUDIENCE: This discussion about holding onto your papers and leaking them out so you maintain [INAUDIBLE]
It's slow, but--
AUDIENCE: I've heard people say that the postdoc is the ideal time. If anything [INAUDIBLE] But then you hear people say that faculty don't want to hire female postdocs because of that, because it's sort of an unsaid thing that [INAUDIBLE]
AUDIENCE: Will have children or-- yes, [INAUDIBLE]
AUDIENCE: I'd be willing to share my story. I'm a fourth year PhD student, and I had a child 3 1/2 years ago. Right after I finished my master's degree I got pregnant. And I remember asking-- not directly, but I was kind of chatting with my advisor and talking about timelines and whatever. And I said, you know, I do want to have children someday. And all he said to me is, that's a personal decision that you have to make. And so my husband and I decided-- that's what he told me.
AUDIENCE: Very helpful.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: Either/or, right?
AUDIENCE: It was just like, that's personal decision that you have to make. And so I chose to do it in graduate school-- definitely challenging. But you think about, and you think about what's in the future-- is it going to be any easier? Maybe not. So that's the situation I'm at now, juggling.
And then I think we talked some about maximizing your time, or checking email, or doing whatever. It's like, when I come into the office or to the lab, it's like, I'm here from 8:00 to 5:00. And I have this stuff I want to get done, and then I'm out. So that's the way I work it right now. It's worked for me-- definitely challenging. I would do it again in an instant, basically.
SHELLEY CORRELL: [INAUDIBLE] and some women who have children and continue to work, they're not at all the sort of stereotypical scientist or stereotypical worker. But they're the most efficient workers. If we valued efficiency over just being there endlessly, we'd be valuing a very different group of people.
AUDIENCE: That's right. Don't you want to hire a mother who can do all these different [INAUDIBLE]
I mean, it's like I play this game with myself, like how fast can I get this stuff done? And how efficient can do this and still producing quality work, but getting done what I need to do to get done.
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: What are you studying?
AUDIENCE: Animal science.
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: One thing that I think that we also have to consider is-- so we've become very focused on competence, right? And sometimes the publication cycle takes longer despite our best efforts to work. But there has to be some way of making other people aware of what you're actually doing.
And so in our eight hours, these are the tasks that I have to do. One of those tasks needs to be once a week, once a month, I'm reaching out to my colleagues, I'm having lunch with them, I'm stopping by their office in a very planned way. But that's a really key component. It's not just about competence for women. It's about competence and these relationships.
AUDIENCE: My advisor-- not so good at getting everyone together, so it's a very difficult situation.
EMILY MONOSSON: And that's actually something else that came up in some of the chapters that women wrote. They commented that when there are those networking times, they're often at times when you're rushing off at 5 o'clock to go home and pick up your kid.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] after work.
EMILY MONOSSON: Yeah. It's almost discriminatory in the sense that those with family-- and it's not always women, but it's whoever's doing the child care miss valuable--
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: And just to follow up on your point, I think you're very right, and I think it is important to make time to see friends and see colleagues when you do not need their help, because you go in to see a professor and [INAUDIBLE] Oh, and could you send me a reference? And oh, I need this.
You need to sort of cultivate those relationships when you do not need their help so that when you do need their help, there's something more than the fact that you did some research project or [INAUDIBLE]. There has to be some social substance as well as well as some competence substance.
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: The other thing I'll say is that, given that the career path of women, and in particular women scientists who have children, is non-linear in many instances, people who start behind you in grad school can end up ahead of you. And so as you think of managing relationships, it's very important to manage to your peers and to people who are behind you, because I know in many instances some of the people who were behind me were tenured first. And the relationships that I fostered with them beforehand actually had tangible benefits that I hadn't anticipated when they were ahead in the process.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yeah, on that subject, for the women who are still in graduate school, those graduate school connections can become so important. So being a good colleague as a grad student can come back to help you [INAUDIBLE]
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: Yeah, absolutely.
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: And that may mean that, if you have a babysitter or know you can get a babysitter, that you then plan the social and say, can everyone meet for x, y, and z? And you're seen as participating in the process, but you've taken control of planning it out at a time when you could actually do it, as opposed to having other people dictate the times when you're available.
EMILY MONOSSON: I have a question for you, either one of you. I mean, part of the reason to do this was it just-- not just in academia, but I feel strongly needs to be changed, and it needs to be changed how people contribute to the work of science, the perception of who's contributing and how they contribute, needs to be changed. And how do you-- in a lot of fields, it's always lots of meetings and discussion, and sometimes things don't happen. And there could be a lot of books and a lot of discussion, and things don't happen. So how does change happen? Is that within your realm, or how do you--
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: So a lot of change happens outside of the formal meetings. It happens through one-on-one conversations where you've built a relationship with somebody and you're able to get them to see your point. And that snowballs into multiple conversations with multiple people, hopefully some of whom are key influencers, such that by the time it comes up in the general forum, you got a lot of people nodding, saying, yeah, this makes sense, people with a lot of credibility.
SHELLEY CORRELL: Yeah, I think it's really something I've really-- [CLICKS TONGUE] we do a lot of work to sort of help people balance work and family by changing, by creating structure such that we can have women more in the traditional workplace. So we put daycare, so we do all this kind of stuff so women can be in the traditional workplace and sort of compete there with men.
The other possibility is a little more radical possibility is one I would love to see-- and I don't know how we get there-- is to change what people think about work and to change the definitions of science, to change the definitions of the ideal worker in any kind of area so that we're maybe focusing on efficiency more than relentless face time in the exact place where we expect to find people, and be more creative in how we think about those things.
And that, I find, is the hardest thing to think about, because you're in a position-- and you know this very well-- where people value this kind of science, this way of doing science, more than this way. And because of that, these people have more power have the microphone, and you don't. And so to me it's really hard to think about how to make those cultural redefinitions.
But the one kind of way that I think that sometimes is possible is when you start to see alliances form between academic sciences and people outside of academia. And to the extent that those alliances and professional associations could help foster those alliances, I think that's where the change could happen. And the way to sell that, I think, rhetorically is to do a little more-- this is what the National Science Foundation has begun doing-- talking about American competitiveness. And how are we going to be competitive as scientists if we can't get more people involved in science. And pushing what that means is expanding the definition of science is really, I think, rhetorically how to get into that argument.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: I have a question for the faculty. With this demographic shift of for the first time we're seeing more college graduates be female than male do you think that maybe these changes might be-- this might be the right time for some major changes to be happening as women are the more likely to be the primary breadwinners of the family or going to be the more higher-educated segment of the population in a large, broad sense do you think that will have any influence?
SHELLEY CORRELL: [INAUDIBLE]
EMILY MONOSSON: It's just too slow.
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: Yeah. Right.
SHELLEY CORRELL: It hopefully will have some influence. Is it going to change things radically? I'm very pessimistic. And I think if you read, which I do, if you read what people were talking about how things were going to change for women, you can go back 20, 30 years, and people are making the same sort of argument. We see these small, little, incremental things going up.
And the point is, of course, is there are very few positions at the top. So even if women are 60%, 70% of the PhDs in an area, let's say, there's still-- you can look at disciplines like psychology, for example, where large, large numbers, like 70%, of the PhDs are women. Now go count the number of faculty in the top universities in psychology departments that are women-- much, much smaller. So some of the things we're talking about, I think, are still going to continue to make it more difficult for women if we cannot figure out ways to redefine careers and to do things that help people balance work and family. Yeah.
AUDIENCE: I don't know exactly how this relates to everything, but I guess one of the ways, in terms of getting change, going back to that comment, seems to me if you can bring in more people and so-- for example, I agree there are things that have to do more specifically with mothers [INAUDIBLE] so motherhood [INAUDIBLE]. How about parenthood? Many of us have men in our lives who have made working possible because they also have contributed incredibly, too.
But maybe even broader than just parenthood, how about people who have other interests in their lives. So choosing to be a parent becomes a huge thing, and it becomes a huge focus of things you do. But if you're a jazz musician, or a Gardener, or photographer, and maybe you choose not to be a parent, that may be something that you spend a lot of time on and that may bring you skills even that may help. In biology, I know if you're a photographer, that may help you sell your ideas to magazines and get cover photos.
So there are things that can come out of that benefit your professional life. And if you're a mother, that may teach you how to be efficient and to-- so sometimes having these other things in your life can interact in a good way with your professional career. But if we could make even people who aren't parents see oh, yeah, that could be valuable and think of ways that it would benefit them, too, not just in terms of our society and having kids who are well cared for, but in terms of even them personally if they have other interests.
JOAN S. BAIZER: I wanted to say something about women in medicine. There you see change, but it's also very, very slow. When I first started teaching, the classes, the medical student classes, were overwhelmingly male. They're now 50/50. When I first started teaching, it was maybe not happening then but had within the past five years of, during anatomy lectures, male professors showing pictures of naked women just to entertain the class. It wasn't that long ago.
So we now have half the medical students are women. But I think if you look at what fields that those women are going into, they're going into OB/GYN, they're going into pediatrics. I was talking to a woman who was graduating and going to medical school recently, and she said, well, I'm really interested in surgery, but I don't see how I could combine surgery with having children. I mean, how can you do surgery when you're pregnant? You have to pee every five minutes. And I did reminder that maybe that would be 18 or maybe 27 months of the whole time.
But from her perspective, it was, surgery may not be a career option for me, also. So even though half the class are women, there are still major limitations in how these women see their careers in medicine.
SHELLEY CORRELL: And probably the signals they're getting about what's appropriate.
AUDIENCE: I also think you need to think about what proportion of the students that graduate are women in science, because at Cornell it's certainly almost half and half. But there's still more men students at elite schools, and those would be the feeders. But in the sciences, what proportion-- engineering is a successful program at Cornell, and what is it? I'm talking broadly. It's a third women. So even in these science areas it's not 50/50, and that creates the pipeline. So the numbers aren't equal. So even with demographic projections, that's not going to do it. Hopefully the long-awaited retirement of baby boom professors will do it.
But I've been hearing about that for 15 years [INAUDIBLE]
SHELLEY CORRELL: Cornell's engineering program is, I think, really kind of notable for what it's done to try to increase the representation of women and students of color in the program and not only is a third of the students, approximately, women, which is higher than the nation, but Cornell supplies-- if I could say this the right way-- of women who go on to be faculty in engineering, the largest number of them were undergrads in engineering at Cornell. So Cornell supplies lots of women who end up being faculty at some point.
JOAN S. BAIZER: What's different in the culture of that program then, or that school? Was it a deliberate decision?
SHELLEY CORRELL: It's a deliberate decision. And I think it's different there than it is in some of the sciences that are not in the Engineering College.
JOAN S. BAIZER: But was it one person? Can you find one person whose decision it was?
SHELLEY CORRELL: Well, you know, there have been-- I mean, the current dean at the engineering school is fabulous. And I haven't been here long enough to know who was prior to that and how some of the stuff it has going, but they have people who specifically work on diversity issues in the college, that do all kinds of outreach things to the larger community. They are out in the schools. But yeah, it's quite remarkable actually.
AUDIENCE: I think if we're going to think about demographics and how they're changing, perhaps it might be important to think about the difference between the demographics at the undergraduate level and then the graduate level, because perhaps engineering is a third women in undergraduate, but once you get to graduate, it's not that much.
SHELLEY CORRELL: Yeah. Yeah, that's very true.
AUDIENCE: I think that's a pretty big indicator of change in and of itself.
SHELLEY CORRELL: And you see in any area, whether we're looking at engineering, whether we're looking at some of these things like veterinary medicine, where it's just heavily, heavily female dominated at one level. And then you go up to the next ranks, where it's the faculty, and it's like nonexistent. We see there's a heavier concentration of women in the lower levels and a much lower concentration at the higher levels.
So there is something going on that women who were undergraduates and doing very well and, therefore, we know have the potential and could move forward are not showing up at the subsequent levels and what's happening there?
AUDIENCE: I'm in engineering, as well. And I think that I have--
EMILY MONOSSON: Are you a graduate student?
AUDIENCE: Yes, in engineering. A very unique experience, because I have a female advisor, and she has five female students who she takes on [INAUDIBLE] And so we've gotten a lot of support from her and stuff like that. But then you look at the rest of our department, it's so few women. To some degree--
SHELLEY CORRELL: You know, nationwide--
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] is huge.
SHELLEY CORRELL: It is huge. Nationwide, I do a lot of work on women in engineering. Nationwide, you find this-- clumps of female graduate students, so that you go to the university, there's a clump of them. And they're all working with the same faculty member. It's not always necessarily a woman faculty member. There are some men who have been great, great mentors to women faculty. It is very, very true that the faculty mentor is so important to the student's experience. So that's really common. And I know who your advisor is now that you said that.
EMILY MONOSSON: Yes?
AUDIENCE: Emily, did you observe that, over the generations, things have changed just because cultural norms have changed? I know I'm a much more tolerant person than my father was.
EMILY MONOSSON: In reading women had wrote, I would say that, yes, those in the '70s gave very specific examples of things that could never be said today. But then I get to Gina's chapter. I don't know if you want to say what it's about.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yeah, I was a postdoc at a prominent national institution, became pregnant, and was told that my two-year postdoc would be terminated at one year a month before my child was born.
EMILY MONOSSON: So it might be what people are saying isn't said anymore, but it's not clear that the way people think has really changed. And even the comment about the ideal faculty member has shown up in other people's writing. And I think that I'm not sure that it really--
SHELLEY CORRELL: It's really the case, with motherhood in particular, what people have learned that they can't say, things that are blatantly sexist-- I'm not going to hire you because you're a woman-- or blatantly racist-- but you look at the number of lawsuits out there that are discrimination against mothers, and most of these are settling out of court because of the things people say.
So an example of a woman who was about to be promoted, and she got pregnant and told her boss, and he said, well, I was going to promote you, but look at you now, sort of pointing to her pregnancy. And he says this, and this was just maybe five or six years ago. And of course the lawsuit settles out of court-- good for her. But people don't, I think, yet police themselves over pregnancy and parenthood in the way that they do over gender more specifically defined.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yeah, I was I was actually very interested when you were giving the introduction. Maybe Dr. Thomas-Hunt could talk about those molehills, the small bumps that can build up into mountains.
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: Oh. I'm not sure what to which piece you're referring.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Well, she had mentioned how small--
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: Oh. Yes, absolutely.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: --challenges can end up after 20 years [INAUDIBLE] very different earning potential, very different professional [INAUDIBLE]
MELISSA THOMAS-HUNT: So you can imagine that if a faculty member meeting occurs at a certain time of day which is incompatible with when you need to get your children or things that you have to do, so you end up being not present on a regular basis-- not because you don't want to be there to participate. And it starts to get noticed.
And then that it becomes, is Melissa not engaged? And then there's more scrutiny that gets raised-- well, what is it she's doing with her time, not only in not appearing there, but I also noticed that she wasn't in her office on this day and on that day. Across the lives of a faculty member, it's very fluid. And people frequently are not in their offices. But one visible absence can then lead people to look deeply. And they you know over-scrutinize.
And so the next time an opportunity comes up, the attribution will be, well, we're not going to ask her, because we know she has family responsibilities. When in fact, for that type of opportunity, it may be that the priorities of my life would have been shifted such that I would want to avail myself of that.
But if you're not given that opportunity, then potentially you don't develop the next level of skills. And so then the next opportunity comes up, and you may even express interest in it. And they say, well, you don't have the skill set, but so-and-so does have the skill set. And so that's the type of seemingly small cumulative effect that can have over the course of a career.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: And also I've heard graduate students may not get the large lecture responsibilities that's given to a male. And then when they go to apply for colleges, they have these small TA shifts but not these major lectures. And that kind of adds up. Those very small increments can make a difference, as well, and just this small prejudices.
And actually, I was in a very interesting situation. I had the chance to invite some students of mine on to a fossil expedition, a paleontology expedition. And there was this one woman in my class who I had good interaction, thought very well of, but she had two children. I was like, well, she probably won't be able to come. Maybe I shouldn't ask her. And I was like, whoa! Wait a second.
And I was like, she can make that decision for herself. I'll give her the opportunity. If she can't do it, fine. And she found accommodations, and she's coming along. But it's that small. I was almost a perpetrator of that small molehill
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: And it's like, let her decide.
SHELLEY CORRELL: Yeah, I think another thing your comment really illustrates is that sometimes discriminatory behaviors come about by people who are very well-intentioned. Psychologists call this "benevolent sexism," where you think, oh, she's got kids. And I want to make sure I'm not overburdening her. So I won't ask her to do this. Your intent was good, right?
And so I think it's really important that we all be aware that we can engage in these behaviors and be very policing about what's the consequences of that, because you're right. Missing that trip could then mean she's not eligible for something else, or she doesn't look qualified for this. And so these little things can become very important.
EMILY MONOSSON: I will add, though, when you asked about the culture, there's the culture of the sex discrimination and that culture, but I think there's also the culture of science. And that is something that I wish would change. And I haven't seen that really change. And I think what's considered a successful scientist is the same thing that's been considered a successful scientists for decades. And that's what I would really like to see changed.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] question. I did sort of say to myself, well, you know, you work in publishing, so it's probably a different perspective that I haven't experienced that. In publishing, I don't think I've ever worked for a male [INAUDIBLE]. But a heterosexual male [INAUDIBLE]
--or a woman. So it's a little different [INAUDIBLE]
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: But if I could add to your question, too, I think a lot of things people are-- first of all, there's the well-intentioned stuff. And then there's the thing like people are trying to be more egalitarian. But then there's all this informal stuff that you find that's still the male faculty members are still having lunch with the other male faculty members and the sort of who finds out what's going on-- it's still the old boys network.
And of course what has happened, too, in some areas-- I'm a social scientist-- and some areas are now becoming more female than male. And in different clumps, there are what are referred to by some men as the old girls network from which they may feel excluded.
But it's not even necessarily trying to exclude anybody. It's just these sort of informal patterns of communication that mean that people don't find out what's going on. Or, they don't make a level of friendship that turns into opportunities that are not really out there, that you could apply for but that would be made for you, so to speak.
AUDIENCE: My department has a poker game, but it's only for men.
AUDIENCE: Yeah. Can I just share--
AUDIENCE: Why's it only for men [INAUDIBLE]
AUDIENCE: I don't know.
AUDIENCE: Wow. It's not a barrier I've chosen to push against.
SHELLEY CORRELL: That's another thing, picking our battles.
AUDIENCE: I actually kind of wanted to share a story with you guys and then ask you how I should respond when it comes up again, because I'm a recently tenured professor in the ag school in biology. I run a lab. And I am one of the few women in my department, so young women grad students often end up talking to me when they're kind of stuck on something.
And I've had the experience a couple of times of I feel like I'm mentoring this young graduate student who is thinking about her future directions. And she'll look at me in the face and say something to me like, I just don't want to do the tenure track thing because look at you, Cathy.
I have a five-year-old child that I had on the tenure track. I got tenure. I feel like I'm a success story. And there's these young women who are like, I don't want to be like you.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] the hours.
AUDIENCE: Well, I may have shown some signs of stress.
But how can I respond to that? I feel like we're so close with that. What is that?
AUDIENCE: Well, ask them. Say, what do you mean? Have you ever asked them what they mean?
AUDIENCE: Yeah, I ask them, and they say stuff like, I just can't imagine leading the kind of life that I'd have to lead as a faculty member and getting grants, and having a child at the same time, and not seeing my child very much.
AUDIENCE: There are men who are taking that viewpoint now, too, though. Well, I've seen what being a faculty member is like. I've seen the funding rates are, like, 20%. Why do I want to do that when I could [INAUDIBLE] money [INAUDIBLE]? So it's not just the women. It's just a matter of the graduate students are maybe starting to open their eyes to other possibilities [INAUDIBLE]
AUDIENCE: That's a good point.
AUDIENCE: I was going to raise an issue that we talk a lot about changing the perception of what is involved in your job. And perhaps part of it is changing your perception of what is involved in being a parent and a mother and finding ways to find support networks for that aspect of your life to make that a little easier on you.
Obviously, you want to spend the time with your child. But if you have networks to help you clean or other things that relieve your time, that you can spend quality time with your family so that you don't feel guilty when you're not there. That might help people be more accepting of doing this quote unquote "dual career," because it really is, because motherhood doesn't let up. It doesn't ever stop.
But we often-- I know I do-- feel like I almost take on more of the responsibility, because I feel like I am the mother. This is my responsibility. I have to make sure there aren't dishes in the sink. I have to make sure all the bottles are ready in the morning. I have to make sure the lunches are ready in the morning.
When in reality, what I should be doing is finding ways to delegate that authority to relieve that aspect of the stress of my life so that I can focus on where I can prioritize and give more to my family and more to my job. But we tend to not be willing to give up that aspect of our life. As opposed to not going to an evening event that might be important for your job, be more willing to give that up so that you can be there to help with the family.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: I would like-- I'm actually very passionate about something you just said. And you used the terms you should "delegate," and I was like, wait a second. No. You should give up some of that power. I'm serious. Equality will not happen in the workplace until it happens at home. And a lot of that equality isn't something that the man's making you do something. It's no, you are grabbing onto that power as your job and not allowing him. And so you have to just be like, OK, that's not my power. I'm giving up that power. You renegotiate those power boundaries. It's not that you are saying, you must have the bottles ready in the morning, because then you're this nagging, horrible--
It's like, no. It's letting go.
EMILY MONOSSON: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] it's very hard.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: That's very important. It's very hard because we saw our mothers doing that.
AUDIENCE: Especially when you have a career where you're in such control, and you have to be in order to drive your research or whatever forward. And controlling the people in your lab and organizing and everything that you need to do, that carries over. It's hard to let that go because you want to constantly be organizing, and controlling, and setting everything up to make sure it works exactly as efficiently.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Many of us were raised in a household where that was the mother's job. It's hard it's hard to negotiate your own path. And a lot of it really is recognizing that I don't have the DNA to change a diaper-- I had to learn, my husband has to learn-- and to recognize that I don't have all the answers, and allowing my daughter's father to be a nurturing, powerful force in her every minutia of her life, not just me. And that's hard to give up, because you think it should be yours actually. So backing off-- I think learning to back off [INAUDIBLE].
EMILY MONOSSON: I agree with Gina completely.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: Except that you do have to make sure that some of these things don't fall through the cracks.
That is a problem [INAUDIBLE]
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: But then both of you have to deal with the consequences, not just you. You have to make sure that you're not picking up the consequences, because fathers are loving their very important role. And they're going to notice some things fall through the crack.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Maybe that crack isn't as important as you think it is. If her clothes, or they're too big-- who cares? Or, she has a booger in her nose-- who cares?
So I mean you have to pick which cracks are important and what just, hey, doesn't matter-- not the way I would do it, but she's healthy and happy. It's all good.
AUDIENCE: You want to trade?
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: But I think that's a huge-- that equality in the workplace will no happen till it's equality at home. And a lot of that's up to us in our individual negotiations.
AUDIENCE: I have some friends who were having a very stressful time, and they were going to a marriage therapist and everything. And it was very difficult. And then finally, [INAUDIBLE] oh, instead of paying the therapist, you could pay somebody to [INAUDIBLE]
[INAUDIBLE] the marriage therapist [INAUDIBLE] the house, and their stress level went way down.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Neither one of them wanted to do it. Hire someone else to.
EMILY MONOSSON: Yeah. I think that's-- it's 2:00. Let's take one more question. I hope everybody is coming back, because there's Gina and Marilyn, and the there's three more. There's Lisa, and Margaret Frey, and Barbara Knuth coming to discuss. So let's take one question, and then we'll go for lunch and come back at, what, 2:30.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] snack.
EMILY MONOSSON: Snack. It says break.
AUDIENCE: Back to your question about what to say to the students. And I know when I was in grad school and looked at the women faculty [INAUDIBLE] want that life. But it's not an exact model [INAUDIBLE] But I think asking the students [INAUDIBLE] try not to take it personally.
They'll learn. Eventually they'll learn that that's not appreciated. And just say, well, what do you want? What are [INAUDIBLE]?
AUDIENCE: --is seeing my friends who have gone into different [INAUDIBLE] And some said, oh, I want a more balanced life and went to small colleges.
AUDIENCE: They get along really well. But--
--right now [INAUDIBLE] and just trying to be a reality check, a kind, gentle reality check. But seeing what they do want, and what job options they're considering, and whether they have a realistic view of what those jobs entail.
AUDIENCE: That's a good point [INAUDIBLE]
EMILY MONOSSON: OK, so actually, we'll get back together at 2:45 so that we could have a little more of a break. And so I hope you all come back. And thank you for being here.
So we're going to get going with the second, with panel 2. And for those of you who weren't here, we have three contributors from the book. There's 34 of us altogether. And so we have Joan Baizer, who spoke this morning.
And then we also have Gina Wesley-Hunt. And Gina's a Paleontologist and Evolutionary Biologist, graduated from Northwestern University in 1995 with a BA in evolutionary biology and spent two years jumping around the country joining field projects on small animals, peregrine falcons, and fungi. And in 2003, she got her PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Chicago, and her area of research research is mammalian evolution. And she and her husband have a little daughter who's wandering around here.
And then we and then Marilyn Wilkey Merritt is an Ethnographic Linguist and Education Specialist who's a University Lecturer and Consultant. She is committed to promoting human understanding, writes poetry in general essays, as well as research articles. She was trained at Northwestern, Washington University in St. Louis, with a master's in anthropology, and the University of Pennsylvania, with a PhD in linguistics.
She also says that she benefited from 12 postdoctoral years in India and Africa. And her interdisciplinary research considers social interaction, cognition, media, and individual creativity under conditions of social change. And she is the mother of two children and four grandchildren, and she lives with her social science husband of more than four decades in Arlington, Virginia.
And then our Cornell faculty that we have here is Lisa Fortier, who is Associate Professor of Large Animal Surgery. She did her PhD here at Cornell and has been with the faculty since 2000. Her research focuses on cartilage biology and the development of arthritis in horses. And she's published numerous articles in the Journal of American Veterinary Research and others
And then Margaret Frey is the Lois and Mel Tuckman Assistant Professor of Fiber Science and Apparel Design. She completed her BS and MS at Cornell. And after working outside of academia following her doctorate, she joined Cornell faculty in 2002. Her research focuses on rapidly renewable polymers as engineering materials and interfacing fiber science and nanotechnology. And she's published in the Journal of Membrane Science, and Polymer Science, and others.
And then Barbara Knuth is a Professor of Natural Resources, and she's been at Cornell since 1986. She's co-leader of Human Dimensions Research Unit and researches, among other things, community-based natural resource management, approaches, and the use of natural resources, particularly in fish and wildlife. And she's published in Science, Human Dimensions of Wildlife, and many other journals.
And so we will start off with Gina, and then there will be the discussants and a question and answer to follow.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Well, thank you very much. I'm Gina Wesley-Hunt, and I started my career very early in life. My father was a doctor, so I thought I was going to be a physician as well. And I really wanted to go to Cornell, as I just said. But I was not accepted. But I'm very glad I ended up where I was-- Northwestern was terrific.
But I knew I wanted to be a scientist for a long time. And I had some great mentors, and serendipity worked out wonderfully. And my husband and I both found positions. He works at the molecular lab at the Smithsonian, and I got a postdoc at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. And so it was great to both have great jobs that we liked.
And we decided, OK, now's a good time. We just purchased a home in the DC area, not an easy task. We have enough money for child care. My husband was willing to be the primary caregiver of our child so that I could pursue my career if it needed to be really one-sided or not.
So the stars were aligned. This was a great time, great chance. And postdoc-- it was a research position, so I didn't have to be at the Museum at any certain time, so I could be extremely flexible.
So we got pregnant, and the time came to start telling the bosses. And another postdoc on the exact same grant was also pregnant, several months ahead of me. And she let me know that she had just been terminated from her position when she told about her pregnancy.
So I became alarmed and panicked. But I think what a lot of women tell themselves is, oh, it won't happen to me. You know, I will stand out, something. You know, I don't have mitigating problems. I don't have some of the issues that she was going to have. It would be OK.
So it was my turn. I told my bosses. But before that meeting, I did my homework. I'm a proactive person. I did my homework. I called multiple offices at the museum, and they all told me that, eh, it's up to your PI. There's no umbrella of protection that covers you. You are not an employee. You are not a student. You are not an intern. You are a postdoc. You do not fall underneath our umbrellas. In fact, we can't even really assist you.
So I called NSF, which it wasn't my grant. It was a larger grant. So I called NSF and unfortunately I didn't know enough on who to ask, who to talk to, and I was told that the policies that would protect me were from the institution I was at. There was no NSF policy that would protect me, which turned out to be wrong. But I talked to the wrong person.
And so much you call around, you talk to the people that you get. If they don't have the right information, there is not so much you can do. And I didn't know that there was an equal opportunity office. And in retrospect, I should have figured it out, but I didn't.
And so I went into this meeting feeling completely powerless. There was no one looking out for me. And sure enough, even though all my mentors, my graduate advisors-- oh, don't worry. You're stressing about nothing. Don't worry. It'll all work out.
I walk in. It wasn't a discussion about how we were going to be proactive and work through this, what are our research priorities, then I'll take my maternity leave, and then I'll come back. And I was going to be in the area, and I could come in if things were needed. We could be flexible. No, it was a discussion of OK, your two-year position will be terminated at one year, just before the birth of your daughter. And it was definitely shocking.
My immediate supervisor thought she was trying to be very helpful and make herself feel better, was like, oh, maybe we'll get departmental funds I can co-write an NSF grant with you. But as you all know, first of all, the deadline was coming up fast. If I did get it-- which is, like, a 1 in 10 chance of getting an NSF grant, if that-- it would still be a year before that would kick in. And that would be a year without money. And so it was kind of all it was a gesture, an empty gesture. It wasn't really a practical solution.
And so I became very angry. And I'm learning sign language with my daughter, and this is angry. And it feels really good. It's like angry.
So I became very angry, and my joke was that they messed with the wrong pregnant lady, because I was already questioning a pure research career. I was finding it less invigorating than I thought. I wanted more interaction with people.
And I was also very protected. I was in a department separate from the granting department. The department that had earned the grant was separate it was not the paleobiology department. And I was surrounded by-- there was two graduate students who were in my program who are now at the Natural History Museum. So I was surrounded by colleagues who were very supportive.
And so I decided this was my chance to really make a mark and to make sure this doesn't happen again. And I wasn't fighting for my position, because I felt at that point I wasn't interested in pursuing a professional relationship with these people and that it would be too emotionally and mentally tough.
And so I started talking to people at the institution. I started talking to all sorts of different offices telling them what had happened, saying, what can we do to change this? This needs to change. And one of the most upsetting points of all this was when I was talking to people in power, first of all, they would, oh, that's not our responsibility. That's someone else's. That's someone else's. And so everyone else thought it was someone else's power to protect postdocs.
And then I went to the person in charge of all the research at the Natural History Museum, where he did have the power. And we kibitzed about how other countries it was so much better, how ridiculous the US system was, and yeah, it's too bad. It's unfortunate. But I'm not going to do anything to help you. Yeah, I'm not going to put any energy into changing this. It's just that's the way it is. And so that really upset me.
And so then, I'd been kicking a screaming for about a month by this point, and finally, the Smithsonian lawyers actually found out what had happened because I'd been talking to so many people, making waves. And they called up my bosses, the PIs of the grant, and told them, yeah you're going to reinstate this person. And so they came back and offered me back the position. But at that point, things had deteriorated.
And when I talked to my immediate supervisor-- not the PI, but my immediate supervisor-- her approach was, OK, how are we going to make the PI feel better about you staying on? And I communicated to her that I expected the opposite. I expected that they should be making me feel better about staying on. And that did not go over well. And so that hope, that glimmer that it could work out, died pretty much right there.
And then-- again, serendipitously-- my husband's uncle has friends in high places and his very good friend was the lead legal counsel of the National Women's Law Center in Washington, DC, and called up and made those connections. And they agreed to represent me, and they found me pro bono representation and a major law firm with a lot more resources than they had in DC, who happened to be a Northwestern alum, actually, the lawyer who represented me.
And I knew I didn't want to go straight to litigation, because I still wanted to have a working relationship, and I wanted to make changes within the system, and I didn't want to go right to the jugular. And so we wrote a lot of letters. And by doing so, I knew I weakened my ability to sue. But we wrote several letters.
And I heard through the grapevine, through my contacts, that changes were being made. And actually, Jeff, could you-- in my bag there's actually a copy of the new policy. Yeah. So over multiple letters and actually just before this went to press, this is the new equal opportunity rights and responsibilities.
And in case there was-- so new postdocs, interns, and graduate students who actually signed this so that they know their rights, and I'm responsible for two little words where sex discrimination, "including pregnancy"-- because people didn't realize that pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. And so they think they can get away with it. They don't realize that they're being discriminatory. And so that's now in this, in case anyone was wondering.
And then also, when I had called the Equal Opportunity Office at the Smithsonian, they pretty much slammed the door in my face. They said, you're not an intern, you are not an employee. We don't have to deal with you. And they weren't there to help me.
And so now the Equal Opportunity Office is there for anyone-- where is the actual language? Anyone associated-- that's it-- anyone associated with the Smithsonian. And so that is a big change, too. So now when someone calls Equal Opportunity Office, they will be listened to, they will be taken seriously, and they will be helped.
And so I think the message that I really wanted to talk about in the wonderful opportunity-- and my joke with my friends was, at least I got a publication out of it.
And so one more thing on my publications And was that so many women stood up for my opportunities before me. And I really felt, and I understand, taking the quiet road and just looking out for your own career, because you worked so hard to get there. You're passionate about that, and I understand that urge to protect.
But if you don't make waves, if you don't stand up, if you don't say, excuse me, that's illegal when you are a tenured position, whoever was saying that--
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: --then it's going to keep happening. And this had been going on to other women at the Smithsonian. And the woman who really helped me out, Mary Sangrey, who is in charge of interns at the Smithsonian, she was saying she would have students come to her, graduate students come to her, postdocs come to her with horrific stories. And they chose to walk away quietly because the consequences were so dire of speaking out.
And so this has happened before. And because they didn't speak up, and no one protected them, it happened to me. So I decided, because I was ambivalent enough about my career that that's it. This needs to change. Because I had the connections I had, this was the perfect-- the stars were aligned. I had to take this as far as I could.
And believe me, my letters, having two law firms, including the National Women's Law Center, it stood out. And I was paid attention to. And if it was just me, that never would have happened. And actually, through the American University Women, they have a list of lawyers you can call. I called them. No one called me back.
SPEAKER: Oh, wow.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: And so it was unfortunate that it took the connections that it took. But they were there, so I took it as far as I could. And so I feel very good about this. And I really feel I couldn't depend on closure coming from my PI realizing it was wrong, because it didn't. I mean, he does not recognize that it was wrong. But having this really makes me feel good. And so the next postdoc, the next graduate student, hopefully it will be easier for them.
There is still nothing in there about getting family medical leave. And so that's the next step. But at least people know it's discrimination. And also, through the grapevine, everyone who could be a supervisor has to take anti-discrimination classes. And so now pregnancy is kind of hammered into their head. You can't fire people because they become pregnant.
And also, I think we were talking before about the prejudices that women-- against women, against mothers. And I talk in my chapter about, it was really hard-- or maybe it was a different one. It was very difficult not to buy into, I'm a silly pregnant woman who can't be taken seriously. I'm flighty. I can't concentrate-- all these stereotypes that are out there. And it was hard not to buy into that.
And I actually posted on my bulletin board the famous quote, "well-behaved women seldom make history," put that up there. And also, her other quote-- I forgot the person who said that, but another quote was "you have a right to a whole life." I have a right to have a family and a career, and we can make it work.
And if I couldn't make it work with a partner who is willing to be a primary caregiver, being able to afford daycare, having a home-- if I am not allowed to do it, who has a better situation? And so that was just extremely frustrating to me. And so I had those posted on my bulletin board, and that got me through a lot, to remind myself that I have that right, that it's OK, that what I'm doing is justified, and we have to be able to do this.
One of the things I also wanted to use this chance on the soapbox to talk about was husbands should be taking paternity leave. Your partner should be taking paternity leave. I've given my male colleagues a lot of flack. A lot of them are expecting children. It's like, you're taking paternity leave. I'm going to follow up on this. You better take paternity leave. They have to start sharing that burden, or else it's always going to be a woman's issue.
But as soon as employers know that when they hire a man and a woman, both might be taking paternity or maternity leave in the future. And then you have six months of not worrying about child care. You have six months. And then once you get to six months, it's much easier to find child care.
And after that first three months, yeah, with breastfeeding and stuff, yes it is important for the woman to be that person. But after three months, you pump, and the husband can do it, or the partner can do it. It has to be shared. And you have to get your male colleagues-- you're taking paternity leave.
And it helped that the director of the Smithsonian-- the director of the Natural History Museum, actually-- had just come back from paternity leave.
Things were lined up. And people knew it was wrong. They just had to be kind of slapped into shape. They knew it was wrong. And by not suing, I wasn't turned into the enemy. I was turned into this-- let's help this. Let's get this going. And so that helped as well. But I think talking about it is huge.
And we started, in graduate school, as a paleontologist-- not many female mentors. And the few senior women in paleontology who have children had children-- I kid you not-- when they were, like, 49, 50 years old. Yeah, it can be done, but, you know, jeez.
And so we started a Women in Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in graduate school, because we wanted to start connecting those levels, those women at different levels, making those connections. And now, when I go to those meetings, I make a point of going around to the poster session, talking to the younger women, seeing what they're interested in, introducing them to more senior paleontologists-- making those connections, because so often, women are part of the problem.
My immediate supervisor was female. She had two kids when she was 50, but she did not stand up for me at all. There was this weird power dynamic with this male curator, and it was like she refused to put herself on the line. And that was very frustrating. So we have to-- not to the exclusion of men-- help each other. When we start hurting each other, we're hurting everybody.
And I think what we were talking about in the last panel about the gentleman brought up that great point about breaking these boundaries with women will help break the boundaries for men. And they need to feel comfortable taking paternity leave. And I think insisting upon that is a very important thing to do.
Also, a very good colleague who was at the Smithsonian, a curator at the time, I went to him, was like, so are men consistently productive? Do you publish the exact number of publications a year, or do you have some slow years, and then some good years, and some slow years? He's like, yeah, you know, some years are better than that. I'm like, (SARCASTICALLY) no, really? You're not completely consistently productive? Life gets in the way sometimes?
But for some reason, if you're a woman and have a kid, that's not acceptable. Whereas a man, yeah, they're going through a tough time. People are like, OK, they'll be productive later on. Or, they're building their research. But for women, for pregnancy, it's a whole different prejudices that are involved.
And also, my professors, my advisors at the Smithsonian, they are willing to throw away a 40-year productive career because I might have a few less publications for a year. They were willing to throw away all the investment, my entire career, because instead of six publications, I might have four. Or because of five publications, I might have two. It's like, really? Is that really worth cutting me off right there at the knees when I had a 40-year career ahead of me?
So I think you have to look at the bigger picture, too, and that we're talking about a finite point of time. And when fathers start taking on those burdens, as well, and it's not just left to the woman, then it's no longer just women who have to shoulder it. And the workforce will adapt. They will know that a father is going to be taking time off, as well.
And right now I am a full-time faculty member-- I have a little title, assistant professor-- at a two-year institution north of DC. It's a community college, and it is a terrific-- I'm incredibly happy. I never would have thought. When you're a graduate at university Chicago, a successful career is not a community college. That is not where they are training you to go. And so redefining success was a huge transformation for me.
And I love what I'm doing. I get four months of vacation a year. And you name a faculty member at a research institution that has four uninterrupted months that they could do research. So in a way, I can make this what I want. And I can write grants to get funding for the summer to do research. I have maintained a very good relationship with the Smithsonian, and so I had the opportunity to take community college students from the DC area out west this summer to dig up dinosaurs with my colleague at the Smithsonian. And so there's tremendous opportunities now.
And I don't know who said it, but there's it's out there, that the best revenge is success.
And so that's my plan. They shouldn't let me get away. But I'm going to make that success the way I define it. And that's something that I've grown into.
And so another wonderful part about the community college-- and I think at any teaching institution you get these opportunities-- but a student I was in my class, and she was being actually-- we get a lot of adults coming in to take more science classes because they've decided that now they want to go to become a doctor, or now they want to become a pharmacist.
And so I had one of those. She had been in the military, had done a lot of medical work, and had come to my class. And she was actually being headhunted by a pharmaceutical company because they wanted her to work for them. And she had to miss class. So she was letting me know she was missing it for a job interview. I said, well, did you ask for more money? Well, you know, no. I'm like, they want you. They've come looking for you. Ask for more money.
So she went to interview, asked for more money, got it, came back. She said, yeah, I think I'm going to ask for more the next interview-- went back, asked for more money.
Because of my one comment, my mentoring, she increase her starting salary by almost $10,000. And it feels so good to have that kind of immediate impact on someone's life and to help women get ahead and get that higher income, because as we talked about in the earlier panel, you're less likely to ask. And so that was tremendous.
So I'm very happy where I am. Never when I was in grad school, never would I have thought that I would have been happy where I am right now. But things have come in, and this is a big part of it, being able to feel like I have this voice and the ability to share.
And I got this through the viral virus. I had a friend, a male, who was in DC, who was in my graduate program in Chicago. And he was AAAS intern at the NIH. And he got this email, and he forwarded it to me because he knew what had been going on. And I jumped on it. And yeah, at least I got a publication out of it.
EMILY MONOSSON: [INAUDIBLE]
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yeah.
EMILY MONOSSON: Thank you. And before we go, I just want to comment on we were talking about how there's different opportunities and how you said it was a different opportunity for you to think about teaching at a community college. And when people are taking these different routes, it's not just advantageous to the people who are taking them, but think of the people that are getting the quality of you at a community college and what you're telling them.
And so I think when people take alternative routes it also expands the influence to people who wouldn't normally get people who could be in academia. And if they're spreading out in different ways, I think it really influences society in a way that's not still not [INAUDIBLE]
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yeah, and if I can interject, how many of us who have PhDs had parents who had PhDs, or parents who pushed us, who helped us apply for colleges, or showed you the way? You know, this young woman came in, and I was able to give her advice. She was the first person in her family to go to college. She was doing excellent, and I could give her advice that no one in her family could give her. And I could help her make these decisions, and what to look for at programs, and what's the best way to go. And so that is a tremendously rewarding experience, to give women that kind of advice that they don't have access to otherwise.
EMILY MONOSSON: Yeah. So if we want to turn to the discussants.
LISA FORTIER: I'm Lisa Fortier. I'm a Large Animal Surgeon in the Veterinary College. I grew up on a very traditional farm in the Midwest, the youngest of seven. Mom stayed at home, made the roast beef. We took the potatoes up to the farm, never was encouraged or asked to ever work on the farm. But in the same light, was never told, you can't do that. That's not a woman's job. You can't do that.
So it never dawned on me that I couldn't do whatever I wanted to do. But talk about lack of-- my parents graduated from high school, so they didn't know what it really meant to go to college. One sister's a nurse. The rest of them are blue collar laypeople. So to go on to veterinary school, and then I'm a boarded surgeon, and have a PhD, they had no clue-- essentially, when are you going to get a real job--
--and pay off some of your loans, is what they really wanted to know.
I'm also married to another full-time professor surgeon at the vet school, do all large animal-- don't know if I said that-- large animal orthopedics. There's not very many women orthopedic surgeons-- we'll say that-- in either the human or the veterinary field. And I have three kids-- 10, 9, and 10-- how old are they? 9, 6, and 3. So busy.
I have never had such an awful experience. If it has, I'm very much the glass is half full, rose-colored glasses sort of person. So if those things have happened to me, I don't recognize them.
I'm also exceptionally fortunate. Even within the Veterinary College, I hear all kinds of awful stories that happen to other women. But in my section, in the large animal surgery section or in the clinical sciences side, it does not happen. To us, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, those sorts of things, are biology. And the women that preceded me in the Veterinary College are tough chicks.
So I might just need a little more room to get to the OR table, but don't try to push me out.
There were some things. There were no other orthopedic surgeons prior to me. There's one other soft tissue surgeon who-- so I knew all the gooey things that we're going to happen to my body far before I ever got pregnant. Nothing surprised me. Again, to us, I think it's just a little more pragmatic because it's just biology. It's just fluids.
EMILY MONOSSON: [INAUDIBLE] together.
LISA FORTIER: For the men, too-- a lot of it is we have a reproductive biologist. They know what's happening to my body. so a lot of ground was broken.
There were a couple of things that were unique to me, and now, again, you can tell other young people as they come up. So as an orthopedic surgeon, we use radiography all the time, daily. And typically the technicians or any other veterinarian, as soon as they became pregnant, would disclose it and then, nope, not doing it, won't go in the room.
But I like my job. I want to do my job. I want to fix that fracture. I need radiographs. So I could step out of the room, and come back and step up. But a lot of it we do under radiographic guidance. So how can I do my job? And I happened to be on a panel like this from ADVANCE.
And there was a woman radiologist who does catheterization at the human hospital, so we walked off-- and she has three kids. I'm like, how'd you do that? And she said, oh, just get this lead wraparound apron. And I was like, OK. So I didn't know that up till then because there was nobody ahead of me.
So I went down to the radiologist, and I said, I've got to tell you something. He's like, oh! I just said, you know, I don't want anybody else to know, because I was 40-something, to have a child. And you never know if it's going to stick or not. So I wanted to do this safely, and don't be stupid about it. I don't want to endanger my child, but I want to do my job.
So I got a little badge that said "Fetus Fortier" on it, and they bought me a new apron that wraps around double. And they monitor the badge. It's only like this big, and it's under your scrubs so nobody sees it. And they monitor it every single day for exposure. And then I have my own badge. So I can do my job very safely.
And then it clearly showed and told other people. And I certainly didn't want to be a martyr about it. I don't want to set a precedent that not everybody can attain. Maybe they aren't healthy. Maybe they have other pregnancy issues. If it's really a psychological problem for them, they shouldn't do it either. But it wasn't for me. I trusted the badge. I trusted the people.
So that the one thing is to speak up and ask. Stand up and say, I want to do my job. How can I do this safely?
The other thing that I really don't know of anybody else that-- I know lots of other women breastfeed, but nobody else pumped like I did for years after each child-- so trying to get a fridge and a curtain on my door. We have this, because of the paranoia of having women in men's offices, the Veterinary College had a policy of no curtains, no shades, nothing on your window. It was like walking in a battleship.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: What had to happen for that to go on?
LISA FORTIER: Nothing. Nothing. I mean, every window was like a porthole in a ship. And all I had to do was say, (WHISPERING) I want to pump milk. And they were like, [CRACKING SOUND]
And I got a shade, like, right now. It was really easy to do. All I had to do was ask. But there was no policy in board or anything like that. What are the other things? So I guess just ask, for one.
The other thing, I completely agree with your title-- stand up. Get involved in some of the policy. One of the most simple things to change was, why do you have to have seminars from 4:00 to 5:00? I miss all the discussion. I missed the stinking wine reception, which I wasn't going to do because it goes in the milk. But that's the networking that you miss on.
So why can't we have this from noon, or have it from 8:00 to 9:00 when there's child care? And every single time I've asked that, they've changed it with the next seminar, as long as there aren't plane trips and everything. It's just I think people really do want to do the right thing. They're just at 4:00 to 5:00 because that's the way they've always been.
But they, at least in the Veterinary College, they change them instantly. And instead of inviting the speaker out for dinner, let's invite to speak out for lunch so I can go. And then you can maintain all those networking. The networking is exceptionally important, and I agree. I think you said you're just more efficient.
I don't even go out to my office for lunch, because that just costs you time. A lot of the time you're, hi, how are you? How are you? How are you? So the networking that you do has to be at meetings and other social sorts of functions. So I'm much more productive than I ever was before children.
On maternity, I wrote book chapters-- just put the kid in the drawer.
You can really focus and get at the task at hand.
The downside, I think-- and maybe the Veterinary College is different, and I don't think they're doing this just to meet quota. But if you go there, and you go to the business meetings, and you sit the front row or at your annual meeting of paleontologists or whatever your passion is, go to the meetings, get involved, speak your mind. And you're going to get another job.
I'm not saying you shouldn't do that. Now I'm the first woman and the first veterinarian on the International Cartilage Repair Society Board. And this is truly internationally, mostly European male surgeons. Talk about a dominant field that is not all that fun to break into.
But if you want to be a decent mentor to the next group of women and keep forging the path that women before us have forged, then you need to do those things. You need to tell them it's hard. It's hard for men. But it's really-- it's not easy. Don't get duped. It's just really hard. And I thought creatively, you thought creatively, and every single person is going to have to have a new way of doing things.
I don't really care how many hours you work. I'm going to hold your feet to the fire. If you told me you're going to get me something May 15, come May 15 at 4 o'clock, where is it? And if it's not here, there must be something really impressive that is-- and I don't care if you work on it from 2:00 to 4:00 AM or if you work on it from 11:00 to 3:00, or whatever it is.
I just think it's really important to keep talking and tell people how difficult it is, how to keep thinking creatively, how much it costs. Somebody mentioned hiring a cleaner. We have a nanny. That saved our marriage. She just comes in each day-- totally saved our marriage. I keep telling my husband is much less expensive than a divorce, so--
--keep paying her.
And I have a great opportunity to teach people in the laboratory and in the clinics. Most of the veterinary classes now are about 80% women. And somebody mentioned earlier there's a mandate now for tenure extension. And that is true for women. It's mandated for a year. It's automatic in the Veterinary College and in many others. CU-ADVANCE started that in the college.
And postdocs are mostly protected here, too, that you get a year extension on your tenure clock. And I was nearly forced to take that. I was ready to go up at tenure but had three "extra" years because of my children.
And I said, well-- I made sure I didn't have to take them, and I didn't need them. I was ready at six years. I wanted to go up at six years. And I was told-- so it's kind of a reverse discrimination against mothers. I was told, don't set that precedent for other women.
EMILY MONOSSON: But did you?
LISA FORTIER: I went up, and I got it. But they kept, oh, you know, so-and-so thinks it's early. And so it was a whole thing with the provost. Biddy Martin stood up for me and said, this is not early. She can go up at her six years. She doesn't have to wait till nine, because then I'd be 50.
So there are some reverse discrimination things, as well.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Also I've heard-- not from personal experience because I'm not on tenure track-- but that sometimes you're held to a higher standard if you take another year. Even though it's supposed to help you, sometimes it can actually hurt you, whereas if you go up at the correct time and say, well, this happened in the life, this happened in the life-- this is fine. Whereas if you have the other year, they expect that much more. I don't know. I'm sure that's probably different for every committee.
LISA FORTIER: The policy is pretty new, so I think I was the first one that had children that went up that didn't take it. So I don't know that.
BARBARA KNUTH: If I could just comment on that point-- the talk coming up is about identity, so let me just share very briefly a couple of my other identities. I'm also, in addition to what I do in natural resources as a professor, I'm also a Senior Associate Dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. So I'd like to talk to this idea of mandated tenure extensions.
But I'm also a mother of two daughters. They're 14 and 18 right now, and I consider that an important part of who I am. And I'm a little bit disappointed that the introductions didn't include all of that, because I think that's why we're here, as scientists and mothers.
So just to comment on this notion of mandated tenure extension, I think you're absolutely right, Lisa, that it is mandated to grant. But it's not mandated to request. And so anytime somebody asks for it, it's automatically granted. But in our college, Ag and Life Sciences, there is not the assumption that one has to take it.
And I think that's a very important point that you raise, that for some people, continuing the tenure clock is really not desirable, one, because at least in our college, when one has advanced from assistant professor to associate professor, there is an automatic increase in salary that's actually quite substantial. And so to have to give that up plus give up your annual percent increases in the salary pool, economically over time that builds. And that's a big impact.
BARBARA KNUTH: So to give up that for three years doesn't make a whole lot of sense. On the other hand, for some people, it is very attractive to take the full three years if you have three children.
One of the important things, though, that I think ought to be considered and needs to be fostered in the academic environment is that it's incumbent upon the chair, the department chair, and then, at the next level, it's incumbent upon the dean's office, and later incumbent upon the provost's office to ensure that the faculty who are making the decisions are really cognizant of the policy and are cognizant that extending the tenure clock doesn't mean also extending the expectations for tenure accomplishments.
The expectation for tenure accomplishments are the same, whether or not you take advantage of the policy, your right, to have the tenure clock extended. So that becomes a community responsibility, to enforce that, really, and to develop and build a culture where departments, department faculty, which is the initial level of considering tenure and promotion decisions, doesn't hold that against or expect more from those women who are exerting their right to take that extension of the tenure clock.
So again, I think it's important to stand up. I think it's important that we all, collectively, recognize our roles in empowering, enabling, enforcing the policies and the rights to which we're privileged.
Also, if I may, were you done?
LISA FORTIER: I'm done.
BARBARA KNUTH: OK. I'll just build on a couple of Gina's comments. I really appreciate one of the themes that I heard was this notion of knowing what's right for you and really holding to that and sticking to that. And I really do think that it's best for you that if you don't agree with the values of the institution where you are, it's better for you in the long run to stand up for it. And you probably don't want to be at that institution for your career if you don't agree with their values. And so, by standing up for it, you can, one, either change the values, or you can reinforce for yourself that there are other plenty good opportunities and often better opportunities out there.
This notion of standing up-- when you're in an academic situation, most universities now have a policy of establishing mentoring committees so that a new assistant professor has two or three faculty assigned or chosen to serve as mentors. And I think one of the real important things is to recognize that you as the person receiving mentoring, again, you have to know what's right for you.
And I'll give you two examples. When I started at Cornell-- and granted this was back in 1986, and I was the first woman faculty member in my department of natural resources. I was 27 at the time, so a fairly young assistant professor. Many graduate students were older than me, actually. And two older white male professors sat me down, each individually, and said to me, don't even think about having children until after you're tenured.
So I hear that advice. I could interpret that as they're looking out for my best interests. They're trying to help me succeed. But then I also thought about the reverse of that. I could be six years down the road, end up with no job, and no children. Is that the right thing for me?
So I decided, no, that's not the right thing for me. My older daughter, as I said, is now 18, my younger daughter, 14. So you have to know when to reject the advice that you're receiving.
On the other hand, you also need to know when to stand up and ask for things, ask for benefits that you think will help you in your situation. Actually, before I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was elected president of the New York chapter of my scientific and professional society, not knowing, of course, that I was going to be pregnant in a few months.
So the annual meeting that I was supposed to go to for our international association-- and as the New York chapter president I was supposed to be representing us at this meeting. I realized at that point when I knew the meeting dates, and my daughter was born, and all of this that I was still going to be breastfeeding when this meeting was occurring.
So what was I going to do? Either I give up the opportunity to network professionally and represent the New York chapter in my role there and get to all the colleagues in this area. Or, I go with my infant daughter, who is still breastfeeding.
And so I approached our dean's office in our college. And I said, you know, here's the situation. I know have funds available through my discretionary funds that I had earned rightfully to pay for my own travel to go attend this conference. But can I also use these funds to pay for a caregiver to accompany me and be there. Between meetings I could run back, breastfeed, and go to my meetings.
And so the dean's office said yes, we'll pay for--
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Very cool.
BARBARA KNUTH: --the travel expenses. We'll reimburse the travel expenses of a caregiver. So I invited my mother.
And it was a wonderful week for us. The conference at that time was actually in Pittsburgh. So it was it wasn't all that glamorous. But it was a great time, gave me time bonding with my mother, gave me time networking with my professional colleagues. And I got to breastfeed my daughter, so life was good.
So that's my message. Know what you want, and really stand up for yourself, and be creative about the ways of going after it. But also, know when to reject the guidance and the advice that is given to you for whatever reasons. But know when to reject it and when to act and really what your values and your principles are.
EMILY MONOSSON: That's great. Yeah, I think that you can't say enough about asking, asking, asking. That came up earlier today, too, about how important it is to have the courage to just ask.
LISA FORTIER: It's something you have to teach young women, though.
EMILY MONOSSON: Yeah.
LISA FORTIER: You need to ask for more money. I even tell people in my own lab, you need to come back and ask for money. You need to come back and ask me for a raise, and tell me what you want. Go home and figure out what you need for money.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: That's great practice, because it's in a nurturing, safe environment, but they have to actually ask. You're not going to be nice and offer.
LISA FORTIER: Right.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: That's a great idea.
LISA FORTIER: You deserve a raise, but you tell me how much you want.
EMILY MONOSSON: Margaret [INAUDIBLE]
MARGARET FREY: I'm Margaret Frey. I'm in the Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design. And I'm the mother of a 12-year-old son, Peter. I guess one thing that I kind of thought of all, she was talking is in a recent faculty meeting the topic came up that I guess Cornell is formalizing the maternity/paternity leave policy for postdocs and graduate students.
And there was initially some rumbling among our faculty, and particularly among some of the women, about having to do this. But what I always like to point out is that it's not really a surprise. You usually have at least six months to plan for this coming up.
And there's almost always situations within a department or within a work staff where somebody has to go out for a period comparable to a maternity leave that you can't plan for. Perhaps they had a heart attack. Perhaps they need to have some surgery. Something else happened. And somehow those things aren't distressing, but this event that's perfectly normal, as you said, that you can plan for it. You know what's happening.
MARGARET FREY: You've got some pretty good lead time to get this all arranged. And I think we did settle out the meeting deciding, well, this really wasn't going to be a big deal. We traditionally have had lots of babies in our department. So maybe we should be used to it but haven't necessarily had mandated leave before.
Also, reiterating on this thing about asking and deciding what you're going to do, and maybe there's a set of perceived rules out there, but that doesn't mean you need to follow them. And it doesn't mean if you follow them you're going to be successful. I was in industry when I took maternity leave. I took maternity leave at a company that no one had ever taken maternity leave before, and possibly never since. I may have been the only woman who ever worked there.
I worked in a manufacturing factory. And there wasn't really a problem with it it. What maybe was the funniest thing to me about it was, as I got more and more giant and pregnant and had to lean over farther to modify my experiments, all of the union men who worked in this factory came and showed me pictures of their kids. And the ones who didn't have kids showed me pictures of their dogs.
So that was very sweet.
I also, at a subsequent employer, worked a reduced workweek at a place where nobody ever worked reduced workweeks. But eventually you realize there aren't very many people with my skills and my qualifications. And they needed me. I did a very good job for them and probably actually didn't do any less work when I was working 80% than I did when I was working 100%. But after the initial, no, no, nobody ever does that, they said, OK. And it was fine.
So you know you make your own deals. The rules may not be in place for you, but go ahead and ask for what you want. And I think a lot of times you'll find out that more is possible and more flexible than you know.
And with the tenure thing-- tenure is so arbitrary. I should hear in June whether I have tenure or not. And there's a very maybe famous case among current assistant professors at Cornell of an assistant professor who had a ridiculously outstanding publication record, an enormous grant portfolio and was not awarded tenure. Not because it was a woman who had a baby-- it was a man.
So just realize that you can do everything that you're supposed to do, and still whatever this arbitrariness is may not fall into granting you tenure. But you've still got everything you did. And you can take that, and succeed, and show them all at the next place.
EMILY MONOSSON: [INAUDIBLE] you mentioned, Margaret mentioned about asking for reduced hours. And some of the women who wrote have asked about, especially some of the graduate students, how do you plan for having a flexible career and being able to have the time? But I would add the caveat that I think it's important to build a relationship. You had a professional relationship before you got to that point where you needed to ask for reduced time.
So they knew who you were and what you had to contribute, which I think is really important, because they knew your worth. And they knew that they want to keep you. And so I think that that's just something that's important to keep in mind as people go forward, that building relationships can help you be able to create those opportunities.
MARGARET FREY: Well, that's maybe one of the reasons why being a professor can actually be an extremely good job for a mother, because the hours are infinitely flexible. Sometimes I say 24/7 is fine.
But if you do need to leave in the middle of the day, or not work one day a week, work at home some days, there's really nobody-- you're not punching a clock. Really if you get the publications out, you get the grants out, you get the work done, and do it on your own time.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: One thing I wanted to add, I felt that-- again, prejudice towards pregnancy compared to other instances in life-- like I was being treated like the Reagan invention of the "welfare queen." Somehow I was trying to get all of this money from the Smithsonian and not do anything. Somehow I was using them, and they were going to be supporting me driving my Cadillac around.
And I tried to tell them, I want to do exciting science. My goal is not to be your peon. My goal is to be running my own research program. And your goal is to get a lot of exciting research out of me. We want the same things. We can all do it. But it's like I'm working the system. By asking for the unpaid 12 weeks off, I was trying to work the system.
And it was interesting that that prejudice was really there. And the generalization, the stereotype, that you will not-- the reason why it's prejudice is because you're prejudging that the person will not be able to do the job before they have shown that they cannot do it. They thought I was going to fail before I ever failed. And that's why it's prejudice. That is why it's discrimination.
And if you want to go on generalizations-- I was just thinking about this the other day. OK, if you want to make sure you don't hire a criminal with a criminal record, hire a woman. If you want to be careful you don't hire a child predator, hire a woman. If you want to make sure that your employee won't die of a heart attack at a young age or will live a fruitful productive life, hire a woman. If you want to go with prejudices, hire women. We're a lower risk, a lower risk for all of these things.
But that's what they're doing against us is these generalizations that men will be more productive, men aren't going to take time off, men are going to be more invested in their career. Well, flip that over on them, and actually women are a pretty good deal if you're looking at demographic statistics.
MARGARET FREY: If you want someone who won't ask for a raise, hire a woman.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yeah, hire a woman. Exactly.
EMILY MONOSSON: So thank you. I think we should--
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yes, yes [INAUDIBLE]
EMILY MONOSSON: Oh, so we have a-- Joan?
JOAN S. BAIZER: Oh, I just had one question for Gina. Was it just-- you were a PI at the Smithsonian. Was there anything in writing, or was this happening-- I guess this is one long complicated question-- to other women with other PIs? And was that the only government agency at which that was happening?
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: I don't know about specific instances, but I do know that there have been difficult situations of many women at the Natural History Museum dealing with pregnancy. So it was not just my PI. There was nothing in writing at the Smithsonian, but there was nothing in writing to protect the postdoc.
JOAN S. BAIZER: Right. Right.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: At other government institutions-- yeah, I mean, certainly different parts of the Smithsonian that deals with sciences, definitely I know it was happening. So I was not an isolated case at all.
JOAN S. BAIZER: But I was just wondering if it somehow was the culture of that agency. For example, I don't think it was true at the NIH, although I don't really know.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yeah, I don't know about the NIH. But I think some of it is-- it's hard to say. I hadn't been in the power echelons of that to really know.
LISA FORTIER: How'd you prove it was about pregnancy and not some other issue?
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Because they said it was because I was pregnant.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: There was no trying to hide it. That's why-- I think someone else was saying-- they don't realize it's discrimination. There was no trying to be subtle about it-- absolutely not.
MARGARET FREY: [INAUDIBLE]
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yeah. That issue did not even come up. Yeah.
EMILY MONOSSON: All right, so thank you. And we should give Marilyn a [INAUDIBLE].
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: Now, let's see-- did you introduce me?
EMILY MONOSSON: I introduced you. This is Marilyn Merritt.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: OK. All right. OK, I guess I am really the outlier, so to speak. I'm the only social scientist, we actually figured out, who's doing this. And I think I've been interested in this whole thing about motherhood and what it means as you're doing your career for a long time.
And even though it's true, as you said, I'm not one of these people who have had a full-time career. I'm also one of those people who has never not stayed involved. So when I was-- first, I've been married to the same man for many years, over four decades. And we met while we were still in college, and we got married after our junior year. I transferred schools, ended up graduating from his university.
And then we looked for graduate programs, both of us, but I didn't-- we didn't really get funding. So we quickly figured out that I would have to be the person who got a job to support us, because otherwise he was going to be drafted. This was during the Vietnam War era. And so I got a government job as the-- it's too technical-- Supply Command Management Assistant for the US Army Materiel Command. I still remember it.
But I worked for a year there, during which time I also went out and managed to get the department to give me admission to the graduate school. And I took two classes, one each semester, during those times. And then at the end of the summer, I was supposed to be promoted to the next level.
And when I didn't win, they sort of said, well, we can't promote you because we think you should you might get an outstanding evaluation. And we can't give you an outstanding evaluation, because you might be promoted. And I thought, this makes absolutely no sense.
And I talked to my husband. He said, just quit.
And so I did one of the most incredible things I ever did is we went home, and I said, well, how could I do it? By this time in the semester, it'd already been two weeks into the starting. And I walked in the next day, and I told them, I'm leaving at noon, which was not done. This was a top secret kind of thing.
But I managed to do it. They said, well, why are you leaving? Is it because of discrimination, et cetera? I said, I'm going back to school. They said, oh, oh, OK. That's all right. You can leave.
So I did manage to get back. My husband had cleared the way. He had set up all these appointments. I was registering on the very last day for late registration. And I remember I met with the registrar, met with several people, signed up for some courses, actually wrote a bad check which never bounced for what was then possible, deferred tuition. And that started my graduate work in an anthropology at that point.
And fortunately, because we had decided to do this, and we moved into another apartment with some other people, we were we were just doing this all on our own. And my professor decided to offer me, also, an assistantship. So this would never have happened if I had been waiting around until I got a chance. So this was a great thing.
And I have to say that I was very lucky throughout all of my training period in anthropology and linguistics to have great people to work with. But as some other people have said about being naive, as I went through the first year and a half and was completing my master's, I realized that I really wanted to work on linguistics and not just do anthropology. I sometimes wonder, what if I had just gone straight and gotten the PhD in anthropology? I might have had a very different career trajectory.
But I decided, no, no, I wanted to do this other thing which involved moving to the east coast, getting admission to the University of Pennsylvania. My husband had to find another job, et cetera, et cetera. So there involved a little bit of hiatus, and so I thought, oh, well, why not have a baby, you know? I'll just do that. So I did get pregnant right away and did have a baby. And because I had finished the masters, I was actually being a TA for anthropology during part of this time, and the usual leaking milks syndrome as I was helping people with social statistics.
But then we did make the move to Philadelphia. And I started graduate school there. And again, I did not have any support for the first time. And then I did get some support at the end of the first semester after working there. And I had an NSF traineeship.
And that was an exciting period of my time. The thing is, of course, I had this small child whom I had to find ways to get child care for. I ended up sharing with other parents. I mean we shared a babysitter. We didn't really babysit for each other's children.
It was a little bit different. We were sort of-- this was the women's movement at that time. so it was a sort of a little bit like Joan was saying. That was a fun kind of period of time to go through.
I did have a difficult time, in many ways, in my graduate program. It was very demanding. I think I was one of the strongest programs at the time. And there were no women faculty, so it was not easy to always communicate with people.
But anyway, I got to the point where I was already to do just the dissertation. And then we decided, well, maybe just do another baby at this point in time, which was, of course, a little bit silly. But I suppose you're not thinking ahead to all the consequences. And that turned out well. But then it did end up taking me quite a long time to actually then finish the dissertation after that.
What happened to me then is that then we ended up moving to Washington, DC, because my husband got an opportunity to work for the United States Agency for International Development. And we had been living in Philadelphia in basically an urban renewal kind of setting. And one of the things that happened to me there, also, was that I was with a lot of small children who were from a slum area, which is where we lived.
And if you read the book, and read my essay, you will find that, over time, all the experiences that you take in the rest of your life, not just in your career, become part of your whole identity, too. And so some of that was dealing with children who were living in the neighborhood who were also from deprived backgrounds and not so much from middle-class backgrounds.
This was Philadelphia, Center City, Philadelphia. And it was a time when there was a lot of stuff going on. It was during the Martin Luther King assassination and burning. There was somebody stabbed outside of our house. There were all kinds of things going on.
So it was a lot to take in, being sort of a support person for small children who were in that area while at the same time I was going to the university. There were times when there was a real disconnect, when I realized that some of the neighbors that I was with-- it would be nonsensical to them to think that I was going to university, because most of them hadn't even gone to high school. But it was very interesting.
Anyway, once we were in Washington, DC, I did finish my dissertation and a lot of things became sort of came together. I ended up doing a little bit of part-time work that I got at a-- and a one-year replacement position. Then I applied for a grant, and got a grant.
And the other thing that's happened in my career is that I sort of have made a commitment to spend time being with my husband. And once he decided to make a career that involved traveling to other countries, then my career became an itinerant career. And since I had started the so-called soft money grant money kind of a thing, I sort of naively, again, speculated, well, if I'm going to have to write grants and just work from a contracting office, I could do that anywhere.
But it turns out to be harder to do that when you're moving from place to place. You sort of get to a place, and then by the time you leave, you're ready to get the grants. So my career has turned out to be going from Washington, DC, to India, where I had the chance to live for three years, and then back to Washington, DC, for six years, and then back to West Africa for five years, and then now back to Washington, DC, for now 10 years. And I think I've made very good use of my opportunities in each one of these places.
But literally, in India there really was zero opportunity for paid work. And what I found was that it became more important to me to at least be able to participate as a professional so that, for example, while in India, I ended up letting the ambassador know that I was a linguist, and that I had bothered to learn Hindi, and that I was interested in whatever.
And so he said, yes, we'd like to hire you to do a little bit of work to sort of see about the improving the foreign language situation. And I did a number of things on that and managed to get paid literally about $500. And I also wrote an article about some population while I was there, which was actually the area that my husband was working in. When we lived in Kenya, I ended up championing the ambassador's wife there and decided to write an article about her.
One thing that I quickly found out in each of these places is that, even though I was one of-- I only ever met one other person who also had a PhD. But I did find other women who were doctors and lawyers and probably there are many more now than were the case at the time, and that all of these people felt similarly disempowered, and that they weren't able to participate in their fields, and that they certainly were not able to earn any money. And their identity as a professional was really being severely eroded.
And as you've mentioned, Gina, and a couple of other people have, too, one of the things that turned out to be very important was just being able to talk about that, to a certain extent. So I was instrumental-- and not the only person-- in each place, getting together and having people talk to each other and trying to support each other.
And what you end up finding out in these situations is that you're not supporting just the people who are also ethnographic linguists or anthropologists, but somebody else may want to do, I don't know, birdwatching or something that may not even have a terribly professional component to it. But you realize that each person has some aspect of themselves that is not just being somebody's mother or somebody's wife and that those are very important to be able to continue doing.
I also, in my second research project that I didn't mention, my project was working as a linguist with classroom education. So I got involved in doing education stuff, and seeing how people learn, and noticing how people need to be able-- they end up being socialized into how to behave in certain kinds of context, and so forth. So this ended up actually being something, this theme that continued throughout my own experiences.
When I was doing the initial research with preschool children, my own children were, like, 4 and 9. So I was able to actually use my own intuitions about that. And then later, when I was in West Africa, in the meantime, my own children are getting bigger themselves. And when they were young, of course, I was dealing with some of the usual child care kinds of issues.
When they're older-- we were discussing this at lunch, how when children are in their teenage years, which I guess you experienced, they don't need you as much consistently. But when they need you, they need you (LOUDLY) now.
Not, like, next week or when you get back. So you've got to be-- that's very responsive.
And then, of course, what happened, also, is that when we went back overseas the second time, after our children were older-- I think I'm probably the only person in the book who had talked about this kind of thing-- the fact that you may be removed from your children as they're much older, but they're still in college, and you're off in Africa, and they're here. Or, maybe you're just in Washington, they're out in California or somewhere. And you worry about them. And those kinds of long-distance arrangements are not so easy.
When I was going through a lot of this stuff, it was really in the '80s and '90s. And there was no email. For most of this time, there's not even fax, and telephones and so forth were incredibly expensive and also completely unreliable. You couldn't count on getting a connection and so forth. So it's a really very different kind of experience that happened.
People have talked about asking to get what you want. And I think if I think about it in terms of my own career and actually being able to get institutional appointments here and there, I think I have not been very good about asking, because I've been too easy to take no for an answer.
However, what I did learn to do while I was overseas, in particular, is ask to participate in things. And people were having some huge seminar or hiring people, I would just manage to worm my way into being able to participate in some of these things. The downside is, of course, that you're never paid for any of these kinds of things. Then of course, that can be very erosive to your own feeling of being able to command any kind of salary or whatever.
But for me, it was important to be able to at least participate in those things, because as I was saying earlier, one of the things that I've learned through my own research is how much being a professional, or being a teacher, or being whatever depends upon your own socialization into your profession. That's what we've also been talking about here today. So if you don't get those opportunities to participate, then you also don't-- you feel less like you can maintain that identity of being an anthropologist, or being a soil scientist, or being a veterinary surgeon, if you can't participate not only in doing it but in socializing with other colleagues, and talking about it, and making publications, and so forth and so on.
So there have been a few times when I had huge disappointments, as this distance thing ended up causing a lot of problems with trying to get things published-- didn't have mail, et cetera, et cetera. And I found-- and I think, Emily, you've indicated that you've found this, too-- that sometimes you are looking for other creative outlets that may actually fill you up in the sense of providing you with more centering devices so that you don't feel that erosion of your personal identity.
And one of the things that helped me was writing poetry at certain times and doing other kinds of things. I don't know what the rest of you have found. But again, we're sort of trained to think about, if you're serious, if you're "successful," what you're going to do is just concentrate on your job, right?
And then at a certain point in time, you realize not only are there kids, but there's just the rest of your life. We're all trying to be an integrated person at a certain point in your life and that these other things do matter.
So I would say, if I were-- there's just one other anecdote I'd like to share with you. A few years ago I taught a class on women in language. And at the end of the class, we talked about a lot of these things about being socialized to be a woman, et cetera. At the end of the class, I asked everyone-- it wasn't for women only, but as it turned out, only women were in the class-- and I asked them to just write down what they thought they would be doing, what they wanted to be doing in 10 years.
And then I said, if in 10 years you do not succeed at this, you do not achieve this goal that you've set for yourself, why do you think-- what will be the reason why you don't? And every single one of them said because they didn't work hard enough.
And that's the thing, too, that I think is-- we have to really, also, stop beating ourselves over the head. Because if you want to work 30 hours instead of 40 hours, does that mean you're not being successful? Why does it have to mean that? You can do quality work. Maybe you're not doing as much work, but does it mean that it's going to be of lesser quality, and so forth?
So we had a discussion about that, because I wanted-- everyone should feel that way, not just women. But I think women in particular, especially if they get married or develop a relationship with someone else that they make compromises with, even before children, but with children, there are things that take up your heart, take up your time. And it's not going to be just because you didn't work hard enough if you don't, quote, "succeed." So you end up having to rethink what's going on.
In my own case, as you might imagine, some years ago, with all of this overseas stuff, I really just had to psychologically say, how much money I make is not what I'm worth. Do you know what I mean? I just had to-- I can't do it. It's just too painful to make that association. And of course, that's probably resulting in sometimes maybe not getting as much as I might.
But at this point in time, I think, for the past 10 years, I think I have also been somewhat a victim of the ageism thing. Because once you keep coming back in, people sort of say, well, you know, we like what you're doing, but really we need to hire this other person. Do you really need the job? Doesn't your husband have a job? Not that my husband has a-- it's really just that kind of stuff.
So I am a part-time lecturer, mainly at George Washington University. But for the past five years, I've also lectured at another university. And I do it because I enjoy the students, because I think I've had a lot of training and a lot of experience. I've lived in India, Kenya, Niger, Senegal, and traveled to many other countries where I've actually worked. And I feel like I have a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge that I want to pass on.
And I do that because-- but I'm not paid very much. The university is happy to have me associated, but they don't want to choose me over some younger person that they could put on a tenure track. And you know, I understand that at a certain point. But it does mean that your chances are smaller. You just have to keep redefining what success means. And so that's more or less my story.
EMILY MONOSSON: Does anyone have any-- I just wanted to comment on, because I've also, throughout my 20 years since graduating from here, I've done a lot of different part-time things, and some volunteer things, and some things that have been with communities. And I do environmental toxicology, and the people who need it most can't pay. The people who can pay are the corporations and the military.
And so there is that you have to get over that, I think, to some extent. Not when you're working at a university where they ought to be able to pay you, but there are certain situations where people contribute where, if you're in a situation-- and I'm fortunate that my husband, Ben, does have a full-time job that I can do this. But there are times when I'm doing work, either not getting paid or being paid minimally, but the work needs to be done. And it's appreciated.
But it's been hard for me career-wise and as identity, ego-wise, to say what I'm doing is worth something when I'm not getting paid a lot. And I think that that's a really-- and I also do teach a course a semester, or once a year, at one of the colleges near us, at Mount Holyoke. And I've had the reverse. For me it's been a really nice thing. I don't want a full-time job there. I don't want a part-time job there. I enjoy going, and I don't think I could teach more than my one class.
But I've done it almost every once a year for many years in a row. But they can get into trouble for having somebody like me, because it doesn't look good, because it looks like they're taking advantage of me. And there have been studies-- I think I quoted some in the introduction-- about people who work as adjuncts and lecturers and job satisfaction, because a lot of them are satisfied in that position.
But the perception is that they're not satisfied. The people who did the research thought that they would find that they were wishing that they had been offered tenure track positions or that they were doing the lectureships to slide into tenure. And for a lot of them, they weren't. They weren't necessarily satisfied with how they might have been treated at the school, as second class, or they're not always included in the department meetings. I have to say, Mount Holyoke's been great, but some places aren't.
So it goes both ways sometimes. And I want to say, for some of us it's a great opportunity. I sometimes think I'm taking advantage of them.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: Well, I agree with you, too. When I came back from overseas the second time, our children were both-- and I now have four grandchildren and two grown children. And I had been away for five years. I didn't really want a full-time job. My husband was just retiring. I would have liked a regular half-time job.
And I sort of tried that, and I tried to get that. But I noticed that some people in the book had said, oh, never ask for what you want until you've already negotiated that they want you. And I'm thinking, you know, I actually didn't handle that one very well or something.
But I also, as you say, I knew that I wanted to be able to spend more time with my kids and my grandchildren, especially since I had been away, only able to see people, like, once a year or once every two years. So there was a lot of catching up from that. I didn't want the full-time thing. Yeah.
JOAN S. BAIZER: I'm curious about the gender shift in veterinary medicine. What do you think is behind that? I mean, it used to be practically no women, didn't it, as students?
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: I'm sorry, I also wanted to interject another question in addition to that-- the correlation with the decreasing salaries. Answer hers.
LISA FORTIER: OK. So the gender shift is really unknown. It's thought to be that you can earn more money in business, and computers, and that sort of thing.
JOAN S. BAIZER: You mean so the men are out?
LISA FORTIER: The truth of the matter is at Cornell they don't get in.
The women have better GPAs, and better CVs, and all those sorts of things. But it's becoming the norm in medicine, dentistry-- human medicine, when I say medicine-- and veterinary medicine that most classes are at least 50%, if not 70%, women.
JOAN S. BAIZER: Really?
LISA FORTIER: It's also true that it is really slow in changing, that the deans, and department chairs, and that sort of thing are less women than what the class representation is. But that's not for lack of trying. It's a lack of us that want to do that sort of position.
Fortunately, at our college they hire the best candidates still. And I think a lot of us stand up and say, that woman isn't as qualified as this man. And most of them have really nothing to do with childbearing anymore because they're 50, 60 years old. But just for lack of people skills or other managerial sorts of positions, they just haven't been as qualified.
So fortunately that hasn't happened, because I think that's a good way to set us up to fail even further. But it's not for-- those positions are just really slow to turn over. You get a new dean every 10 years, a new department chair every eight. But I don't think the lack of leadership is-- I hardly go to department chair meetings anymore because I can't handle any more jobs.
And if they ask me, I say no. I do enough for the college, now it's time for me to give back to the community. I'm the president of our nursery school and that sort of thing, which really pays well.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: That's right.
Oh, I did lots of those things [INAUDIBLE]
LISA FORTIER: Yeah, but the university gets enough of my hide. The salary part is something that we need to beat our own drum better about. It's not true that we're not paid as well.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Oh, good.
LISA FORTIER: In some disciplines, that is true. So in just academia--
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Oh, for veterinary in academia?
LISA FORTIER: So a small animal surgeon starting will start at about $200,000, earn up to $500,000 or over a million if you actually buy into the practice. So it's really driven by specialty. Small animal surgery is very lucrative. Dermatology, ophthalmology, dentistry are very lucrative.
Large animal or general practice-- so the day you graduate from veterinary school you go hang out your shingle. And the average starting salary as close to $50,000. It depends on-- if you live in LA, you're going to earn $80,000, but you're not going to take home any more money. So the salary isn't really all that different. In the MD, salary is coming down, and ours is getting closer.
In academia, again, it depends on market value. But in order to retain more people and women in veterinary medicine, every section, like equine, thinks-- there are fewer equine practitioners, period, academia and private practice, and bovine as well.
So those areas have gotten together and said, so there's opportunities in equine practice that's headed up, in all places, in Kentucky, of course. So they ship in any veterinary student that wants to come from the entire United States. And they meet there. They pay them to come there for three days and say, this is what you can do.
And I think it's important, because all these things aren't said, for me to get up and say, look, you can do this pregnant. Not everybody's healthy enough. Look, I earn $120,000-- because most people think in academia you're going to earn $30,000, $40,000.
And the flexibility is unbelievable. It's unprecedented. When I'm on clinics, I'm on clinics. That's full on. But it has happened when my husband's out of town, the nanny calls in sick, the kid is sick, and I've got a full surgery schedule. Cancel them. Call them up and cancel them. I'm not coming in. Fire me. I'm not coming in. And this is before tenure. It's just the way I operate.
And it's not going to happen. What am I going to do? I mean, you can go to fix-it mode, and 99% of the time, you can fix it. But when you can't
EMILY MONOSSON: You have to know that.
LISA FORTIER: Yeah. And I don't pull that card every time they're sick. When I'm completely out of options, then call them up and cancel them. Ship them back home. I'll be in tomorrow, whenever it is. But nobody is going to argue with you.
JOAN S. BAIZER: Do they, women students, ask you about combining career and raising children?
LISA FORTIER: All the time.
JOAN S. BAIZER: And what are their concerns?
LISA FORTIER: In private practice, their concerns are being on emergency duty and general how do you cancel a caseload sort of thing. I can fess up to this-- I'm old enough to fess up. The person I got to get facials--
--posted on her website, "When school's out, I'm closed. If the Ithaca City School District's closed, I'm closed." I said, good for you, Holly. And she was like, really? I didn't dare to put that. And I'm like, good for you. What men come to you to get facials, first of all?
And if the women don't understand, then do you really want them as clients?
JOAN S. BAIZER: Yeah, right.
LISA FORTIER: But that's the sort of thing women are afraid of. If I show up, it's rare-- it happens sometimes, where they're looking over your shoulder for the man behind you. But that doesn't happen to me anymore. If I have men residents around me, they don't they look over my shoulder to the man anymore ever. That's some experience, for sure, and age on top of it.
But maybe if the gender bias is there-- it is there in orthopedics, to some extent. If I had the energy to fight it with the other battles, then I probably would. I think you just need to keep planting the seed to say-- there's an association for osteosynthesis that is all men, even though 80% of the people taking the course are women.
And I'll say, what are your criteria for getting on the faculty for that? My husband's one of them. What are your criteria? He said, well, you have to publish in fracture repair. Oh, OK. So I googled all these people, and I said, six of them have never published in fracture repair, honey.
And so then they have a cocktail hour, and I golfed with somebody a couple of weeks ago. And I said, so, professor-- I didn't call him that-- how do you get onto this faculty? I don't think I should be on the faculty, but here's six other people, junior people, young people, that you might consider-- half men, half women. And well, you have to, you know, it's this criteria. Oh, really? I go home and Google that. Well, none of you meet that criteria.
So just if you raise their awareness-- and men and women need the educating. I was telling somebody earlier, Virginia Valian came to the veterinary school, and I was completely guilty of, if there was a man and a woman that I was writing a reference for, the woman, I wrote, was supportive, nurturing-- not nurturing-- supportive, dependable, hardworking. The man was innovative and creative. And I was completely guilty of that, 110% guilty.
And if you don't recognize it yourself and then tell the young women, OK, try not to do this. I did that for 10 years. I don't know how many people I cost jobs.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: That book was just, like--
LISA FORTIER: It's amazing.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: --whoa, I was doing it.
LISA FORTIER: Why So Slow?
LISA FORTIER: Because all you have to do is download it off the internet, and it's like two pages to read of the CliffsNotes.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yeah, it's an incredible book.
AUDIENCE: What's it called?
LISA FORTIER: Why So Slow? by Virginia Valian. And all my colleagues are men in the orthopedic side. And I remember when I was a surgery resident, my first job review was, your hair is too long, you're too nice to the students, and the nurses think you're stealing their Tampax.
I said, huh?
Because I was the only one in the locker room. So I thought, oh, OK. So I went home, and I thought about that. And I called up my dad, who was a farmer and had never given a job interview to anybody. And I said, Dad, is that what a job review is?
And he said, well, what did they say about your knowledge of treadmill? I hate the treadmill. I know nothing about respiratory surgery. He said, what'd they say about that? And I said, nothing. How about your anatomy? Nothing. He's like, well, why don't you go back in in a couple of days and ask for audience with this person again.
So I did. And I went back in, and I said, I appreciate all your other advice, but maybe you could give me some of these other things that maybe I'm not so good at. Or, what can I do to improve in these areas sort of thing. And now I joke with him all the time about my flyaway hair, and my jeans are too tight for the students sort of thing.
So it was a real-- men are uncomfortable, too, I think. I think it's a matter of it's OK to critique me. Even if I cry, it's still OK. So I think it's part educating them, too.
And then when women residents come, I can say to them, if they say things like this to you, whenever it happens to you, stop and think, and then go back and say-- what was the one person? I got a critique, honestly, from the same professor, who said, didn't like the way she answered her cell phone.
And you could tell she was visibly upset when she walked by my office one day, and I said come in. Shut the door. And I just said to her, OK, now, just take it for a couple days. Go back and say, I'm sorry, could you explain what you mean by that? And put him on the spot to say, what don't you like about that? Or what is it? Some can't be fixed, apparently, but--
--I think we need to educate them and us, too.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: I like how you were saying in the examples you gave, you were correcting them not in a beating them over of the head, but in an open way, in a hey, do you realize what you're saying, or in a kind of joking-- if you turn it into a joke, that can be a very powerful tool.
LISA FORTIER: It's still educational.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yeah. When I'm out in Mongolia, and the guys in the pit were digging out dinosaurs decide to teach the Mongolian farmer kid about thongs and stuff. And I'm just like, (MIMICS SHOUTING) human resources!
I'm kind of telling them, I'm uncomfortable. This conversation is going someplace I don't want. But you joke about it. And obviously in Mongolia there's no human resources to come save me.
But it kind of reminds people, OK, we can still have fun, and we do other things. But just having that, being able to joke it off or point it out in a humorous way, like you were saying, can be extremely powerful and help you get out of--
LISA FORTIER: Touchy situations.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: And educate, like you were saying.
LISA FORTIER: Mhm. Yeah.
EMILY MONOSSON: Does anybody have any-- yes?
AUDIENCE: A couple of you have talked a little bit about this, and I guess my question is, how did you decide that this was the right time in your professional life to have kids? Because there's so many different-- for those of us who are still in graduate school, there are a lot of opportunities for us in the next few years? And I'm wondering, I've got the personal side of it down, with a supportive husband.
But when do you decide this is the right time professionally to have kids? Because you can wait awhile and have them, but you're taking time out when you're more advanced in your career. Or, you can have them earlier, but then you're going through your career and trying to manage kids as well as career advancement at the same time. So I'm curious about your perspectives on that.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Well, just since I'm the youngest and just made that decision, I was told postdoc was the best time. And maybe I should've rejected that advice. No. Right now, again, you'll have to make your own decision, obviously. But I would almost say now, because as a graduate student, there is a bigger umbrella protecting you than there will be as a postdoc. And on the tenure clock, that's just a whole other kettle of fish. But I don't have experience on that side. But I would say graduate student, but I'm interested in everyone else's, obviously.
LISA FORTIER: [INAUDIBLE] writing PhD. I was away from the toxic chemicals, for one. Maybe once in a while you go in there. But for me, I wasn't around them 24/7-- formaldehyde in the clinic, all kinds of different things. So while I was writing, and you can only write for so many hours a day, right? Then you can look up what's the best car seat.
What about child care, vaccinations, birth plan? I mean, it takes a chunk of time. And you know, after you've had-- I think the best thing you can do is be around-- my husband's great, but he has no idea how much time it took to research all that stuff. So if you're around somebody else who knows what time it takes would be more understanding. When they come into your office, and you're looking up safety, what vehicle's safest-- the breast pump, that's four weeks of research.
It really is. You just want the best of everything.
EMILY MONOSSON: Barbara?
BARBARA KNUTH: Yeah, I think part of it is where you see yourself heading in terms of employment in the future and thinking through what your opportunities might be there. And one of the things I mean by that is that I think the academic environment is actually quite conducive and flexible for being a mother. I didn't have my children when I was in graduate school, but I had children as a professor.
And one of the things that I really appreciated was that I did have the flexibility. When I had my infant daughters, both times, I was in a position where I could structure my day to leave at 1:30 or so every day, go feed at the child care center, come back, and go to work.
I have had the opportunity as my children have been growing up, when they were younger, prior to-- well, toddler through elementary school age, I would go to professional conferences quite a lot with them. My husband is in the same field as I am, so we would attend the same professional conferences with our children. So they got a lot of traveling opportunity, and we both got to attend the meetings.
Just in practical terms, when my daughters hit high school age, it was a bit harder for them to leave, to miss high school. But we do still travel. And just an example of that-- as an academic and in some of the research and some of the scientific advisor work that I've done, I've had an opportunity within my academic position to do a lot of international travel-- not relocating for three years at a time-- but travel.
So once, when I had a PhD student who was working in Mexico-- she was from Mexico-- and I took my fourth grader to Mexico for a couple weeks to visit my PhD student on site. And my daughter got to see that. The topic was ecological sanitation and dealing with composting toilets in the poorest areas of Mexico-- what a great vision for a fourth grader, to understand that side of the world.
Later on I had the opportunity to go to Japan on business. And so I took my younger daughter at that point. My older daughter had gone to Mexico when she was in fourth grade. So now my younger daughter, at age 12, went to Japan with me. And my older daughter said, that's not fair.
MARGARET FREY: That's what I was just going to ask.
BARBARA KNUTH: So this spring I had the opportunity to go to Japan again, and my daughter is 18. She's a senior in high school, had already been accepted to colleges. So it didn't matter that she missed a week and a half of school. So she and I had a nice experience-- just left my husband and my other daughter at home, had a wonderful time. How often do you get to do that, to really bond with your daughters?
The other side of that, though, is not that not just the time that you spend doing those things with your daughters. It's what your daughter sees you doing, or what your child sees you doing. To them it's just normal that mom gets up in an audience in front of 500 people and talks. Or, mom does this, mom runs a meeting.
Talking about volunteering and integrating different parts of your life, I'm a firm believer in volunteering and a firm believer that, particularly us who have very privileged lives really, give back to society. So An example of that, this kind of integrating notion and involving your children-- when my daughters were in child care, and particularly both of them when they were infants, at one point I was president of the board of the child care center. And so I still needed to run the child care board meetings and all this.
So as president of the board, during our executive committee meetings, I would breastfeed while I was running the meeting-- talk about learning multitasking skills-- but also saying to people, you know, I'm a capable person. I can still think while I've got somebody attached to my breast.
This is good. So you just have to think about what your capabilities are, how you want your children to be integrated in your life, and when is an appropriate time, or how you could frame the circumstance or the context in which you're in to really be supportive of your own goals and what you want to be achieving.
EMILY MONOSSON: Yeah, that's right.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: I have a funny incident that I've dealt with before of my son when I was still writing my dissertation, when he was about 2 or 3. And so he became used to this thing of I'm writing my dissertation. So one day he had a play date, and he came back, and I said, oh, what was Mrs. House doing? And he said, she was writing her dissertation. And I said, oh, well, I don't think that's what she was doing because I knew that she [INAUDIBLE]. And he said, yes, [POUNDS TABLE] she was!
It was just sort of this is one of the kinds of things that--
BARBARA KNUTH: Mommies do.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: --mommies do [INAUDIBLE]
MARGARET FREY: I'll say about when to have children, I actually had my son shortly after I finished my PhD. And I refused to do a postdoc because the pay was really crappy. And I think it's kind of a slave job. Although, I'm happy to hire them.
But I want to say that sometimes you can plan this all you want, and it may or may not cooperate. Sometimes these-- I feel that my son had his own agenda-- from conception. Maybe it will work for you to plan this very tightly, but maybe it won't. And I think one of the things that having children may really teach you is that you always need to change, regroup, plan, adapt, throw out the window what was working last week, and go at it again.
You just constantly have to be creative. And like I said, I was very naive and had these children very early on. I think probably most people who are geared towards success would say that your chances of succeeding are better if you wait longer, because then the people see the value of you. You are this great person.
But on the other hand, you're younger. Some people-- I have several friends who decided to wait, and then they never had children. They weren't successful at doing it. So there are costs.
AUDIENCE: What you feel is the right time for you [INAUDIBLE]
AUDIENCE: I just figured if [INAUDIBLE] time on my side, I could kind of think about what would be
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Here's what I think that everyone kind of agrees-- there is no good time. And [INAUDIBLE] your life absorbs around it, and you just have to-- writing, it depends on what type of writer you are. Me, no structure, writing my dissertation-- I never would have finished.
Some people are excellent at that. The kid goes down for a nap. You're working on your dissertation, two-hour chunks. Kid's up for two hours, you pay attention to the kid. Put the kid down for a nap for two hours, writing your dissertation. So it depends on how you work and then think about how that can incorporate into having a child. So every person really has a different answer.
MARGARET FREY: Also, the thought that these two things really can integrate together and help each other in a lot of ways is, I think, something people really neglect. One of the things having my son-- so I started my faculty position late. My career was maybe backwards.
But when I was starting my faculty position, I had a child in elementary school. Most of us aren't trained to be teachers, but elementary school teachers are masters. The way they teach people to write, the way they teach people to speak-- I do the same things with my graduate students and my and my undergraduate students, and just amazing things I've learned from these people.
If you want to perfect your public speaking, try reading The Cat in the Hat out loud every night for three months.
You can say anything.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: My friend, actually, is in the audience. She recommends some great discipline books for toddlers, and it works on undergraduates [SNAPS FINGERS] beautifully.
It is hilarious.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: What [INAUDIBLE] example?
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Oh, a good example-- well, being consistent, like when you say, I'm not giving you pencils to fill out your Scantrons. Mean it, and don't bring pencils, or else they're not going to believe you, and they'll keep asking. So it's like you have to follow through with your threats and all that stuff. And say it in a powerful way-- not screaming, but very powerful like you mean it, and they will not question you. That is absolutely true.
MARGARET FREY: Yeah, [INAUDIBLE]
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: It's amazing how learning to be a mother of a toddler has really, I think, made me a better lecturer to these undergrads.
BARBARA KNUTH: It's not just undergraduates, it's faculty.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Well, that too.
BARBARA KNUTH: As a department chair, I mastered, through my children, the art of logical consequences that were applied to faculty for their behavior. I mean, there are lessons in motherhood that are powerful for working with faculty.
MARGARET FREY: Well, and also just keeping a calm demeanor when things are in a state of crisis--
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: Yes, right.
MARGARET FREY: --is an amazing, amazing skill.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: Yes.
EMILY MONOSSON: Joan, did you have something else?
JOAN S. BAIZER: Oh, I guess I wanted to make one comment about how flexible academia is or isn't. I think it depends on the kind of science you do. And it depends on if you are running a lab, you have money to support postdocs and technicians to do your experiments for you, or whether you are the one in the lab. If you are the one in the lab, then you don't have very much flexibility. If you're running something that has to go through six or seven hours, you can't run out to solve a kid crisis without losing the experiment.
All of these statements have to be just super ultra-qualified. And also, again, it very much depends on the child. I had read all of these well, you bring the baby to work, and the baby lies quietly in the corner of your office, and you work. And I tried that. And I brought my baby to work, and I was taking care of my baby at work. And that's what I was doing.
Every individual's situation is different. And I think everybody would say, once you've decided to have a child, you're giving up an enormous amount of control. And you think you have things planned. You think you know what you're going to be doing. You think you're going to be happy staying home, or not staying home, or whatever. But you really don't know how you're going to react until you're in the situation.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Mhm. I think that's an excellent point, and a lot of it depends on the personality of your child. Your child might sleep as an infant for two hours every two hours, and you can get writing done. Or, the child could scream for three months straight.
And you will get no writing done.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] sleep or take a shower.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: So really, you're rolling the dice. And so, not to scare you, but you have to make sure that you have contingency plans.
AUDIENCE: And the people who support you [INAUDIBLE] partner, or other family members, or friends, or whatever.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Or get your parents to hire a nanny for you.
AUDIENCE: Having that system and being willing to always go back and negotiate with your support system, too, when things aren't working. OK, for whatever reason, this isn't working. Let's sit down at the drawing board again and figure out what will work.
EMILY MONOSSON: Mhm. And I'd like to just reiterate what Joan said about how you never know how you're going to respond and feel, because when I was pregnant, I was doing postdoc. My advisor said his wife was certain that she would stay home with the kids. And his sister-in-law was certain that she was going to stop working. And the reverse happened, and his wife wanted to go right back to work. And his sister-in-law just could not tear herself away from the baby.
And I personally felt that I didn't want to leave. And I made the choice that I wanted to be there with the kids and try to do work at the same time. So you don't know.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: And I know, being at home, I became depressed. It was not for me. And that doesn't make me a bad mom. And it doesn't make her a bad scientist-- just makes us individuals. And so to recognize that every person is different and how they structure their life depends on you and your kid and your family.
JOAN S. BAIZER: Someone said to me once, having a child changes everything, and you won't know what everything is [INAUDIBLE]
AUDIENCE: To actually have the time.
JOAN S. BAIZER: Yeah, and that means, do I get to take a shower today?
EMILY MONOSSON: Right.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: But you do become somebody's mother. And then that affects, also, as I say in here, at a certain point, when we moved to Washington, my husband had a job. I was doing my dissertation. But for most people, it's not like you walk out and say, hey, I'm writing my dissertation. It's like you're a suburban housewife. OK, we've got these two small kids [INAUDIBLE]. And so that is your identity to a certain-- as you write.
And you can either say, oh, I'm not that. I'm not that. I'm really a social scientist. Or else you can say, hey, wait a minute-- I like a lot of that. I like being part of the community, and helping the PTA, and doing some of these other kinds of stuff. So it is part of your identity.
When I was living overseas, there were women who had really serious issues with polygamy and dowry burnings. And you start to feel like some of the issues that we're worrying about are not nearly as serious as what some other cultures and societies are worrying about. And you start thinking about how you can support those changes that really need to go on, too.
Embrace all the aspects of yourself. And value these things. I think that's the thing that has been hardest for me to sort of make a turnaround in my own life, because the other thing is that it affects your identity, and it affects your ability to work. You can sometimes lose the confidence to actually finish writing your publications or doing stuff if you start feeling meh-- that kind of stuff.
But it's important to value those things that you have done, because they are important to you. And you're not just a scientist-- not "just," but you know what I mean.
MARGARET FREY: I'd like to say, when I read your chapter, I could not believe that this was an example of a derailed career, or less than completely successful career.
It was so exciting and so interesting. How much more could you have done?
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: Well, the thing is I do have some important work, some quality work out. Some of my papers are actually being read in lots of places. I don't have a lot, but it has been a fun career, so I'm not sorry for the choices. So thank you for saying that.
EMILY MONOSSON: There any other questions? Well, I just, again, want to thank all of you for coming. And I want to thank--
--the two other discussants and the participants-- Joan, coming from Buffalo, and these two driving up from DC. So I want to thank everybody for being here for this large chunk of time. That was great.
MARILYN WILKEY MERRITT: Yes. Right. Right. And thank you, again. It was really wonderful.
GINA WESLEY-HUNT: Yes, thank you.
JOAN S. BAIZER: Thanks, Emily.
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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.