Headline, May 16 2024/ ''' WOMEN -SCIENCE- WOHOO '''


 WOHOO '''


AMSTERDAM : AN ACT OF DEFIANCE can improve science for women. They don't tell you beforehand that it will be a choice between having a career in science or starting a family.

But that's the message I heard loud and clear 17 years ago, in my first job after completing my Ph.D. in evolutionary biology.

During a routine departmental meeting, a senior academic announced that pregnant women were a financial drain on the department. I was sitting visibly pregnant in the front row. No one said anything.

I took a leave of absence when that child, my daughter, was born. Two years later, I had a son. That second pregnancy was a surprise, and I worried that taking another leave would sink my career. So I pressed on.

When my son was barely 3 weeks old, I flew nine hours to a conference with him strapped to my chest. Before delivering my talk, I made a lame joke that the audience should forgive any '' brain fog. ''

Afterward an older woman pulled me aside and told me that being self-deprecating in public was a disservice to women scientists. It felt like an impossible choice : to be a bad scientist or a bad mother.

The data suggests that I wasn't alone in feeling those pressures. A study published in 2019 found that more than 40 percent of female scientists in the United States leave full-time-work in science after their first child.

In 2016, men held about 70 percent of all research positions in science worldwide. Especially for field researchers like me, who collect data in remote and sometimes perilous locations, motherhood can feel at odds with scientific career.

How have I addressed the problem?  Through an act of academic defiance : I bring my kids with me on my scientific expedition. It is a form of rebellion that is available to mothers not just in the sciences but also in other disciplines that require site visits and field work, such as architecture and journalism.

Bringing your kids to work with you doesn't have to be something you do only once a year.

It started for me as a simple necessity. Then my son as just under 2 and my daughter not yet 4. I took them on an expedition to the base of Mount Kenya in Africa, to study how fungi help trees defend themselves against the elephants and giraffes who feed on them.

My son was still nursing, and I didn't want to stop working. My husband, a poet, came along to stay with them at base camp.

As time went on, I began to embrace the decision to bring my kids with me on my expeditions, not as any exigency of parenting but as a kind of feminism act. When meeting other scientists in the field, the reaction was typically the same :

They assumed my husband was leading the expedition. Once the facts were established, researchers were supportive and even willing to lend a hand.

Looking back at those expeditions now - after more than a dozen, in farflung areas around the globe, I understand that bringing them into the field was more than a rebellion : Their presence on those trips also changed the way I do science, and for the better.

I started tasting soils in the field - a technique I now use to notice subtle differences across ecosystems - only after seeing my kids eat dirt.

Children have an uncanny ability to make local friends quickly; many of those new friends have led me to obscure terrain and hidden fungal cases that otherwise I would never have come across.

And my kids' naive minds routinely force me to rethink old assumptions by asking questions that are simultaneously absurd and profound. Can you taste clouds? Do fungi dream? How loud are our footsteps underground?

What can feel like an inconvenience is often a blessing in disguise. Children force the patience that scientific discovery demands.

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Women Scientists, Motherhood, Research and Fieldwork, and The World, continues. The World Students Society thanks Toby Kiers.

With respectful dedication to the Global Founder Framers of The World Students Society and then Students, Professors and Teachers.

See You all prepare for Great Global Elections on !WOW! - the exclusive and eternal ownership of every student in the world - wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter X !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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