It isn’t easy being both a mom and a scientist!
Turns out there are a few challenges to being both a scientist and a mother. Rebecca Calisi discussed in a recent blog the difficulties she faces as a mother and scientist, and admitted to never truly understanding how unjust the academic system was for career advancement until she had children of her own.
Women have been deemed as the “creators and guardians of life,” as Calisi put it, from birthing, raising, bonding, and caring for their children. However, this is not what women are to be defined as for their sole purpose in life. According to Calisi, “having a baby can serve as an impediment to other life pursuits.”
Being a scientist, professor, and science communicator sounds impressive, but adding mother of two is simply extraordinary. Calisi discussed how she does not allow motherhood to interfere with her work and career endeavors. She often pumps while away at conferences, and has even created a system of ranking certain conferences by their lactation rooms or lack thereof.
Calisi mentions the constant struggles women face in the workplace, parents or not, from sexual harassment and gender bias, to how having a baby can negatively impact a woman’s career advancement. For this reason, she serves on many committees that address women-in-science issues and participates in programs that support women in science. At this point, Calisi shares her struggles with first becoming pregnant in the workforce, and how little prepartum assistance there is in the workplace in the U.S.
From various health issues during the beginning stages of pregnancy from nausea, back pain, dehydration, and exhaustion, it is scary to see how little support women receive during this time due to the dated policies in the field of science and elsewhere. Calisi later mentions how women who “deign to pursue a career and have a family are often sentenced to the expectations that we must work as if family did not exist.” Such a statement could not be truer!
Calisi summed up her point in what is nothing short of a genius statement when people claim more women should be involved in science. Calisi’s reply is right on the mark. “We’re here! We want to do science! But how can we when, to advance, we’re forced to run at double the speed of our male colleagues on a career track clouded by bias and covered in LEGOs?”
Women are superheroes. Rebecca Calisi, scientist and mother, is living proof of the countless women who are doing it all.