My twitter ranting was inspired by a great post from :
When your grant application or journal submission is being evaluated
more harshly than that of the dude's lying next to it, it's not because
you have kids. It's because you have lady bits. And because every one of
us harbors implicit biases against women. We just automatically
downgrade the work and achievements of women right from the get-go.
That's before any of you get around to stopping the tenure clock for a
year to have a baby, or before we notice that you didn't publish so much
in grad school because you had a baby. Whatever you did, whenever you
did it, it wasn't enough and it wasn't nearly good enough. If it's known
you had a baby, that just makes it worse, because it shows you aren't serious. On top of not doing enough bad work.
Nevertheless, there are scads of articles telling us all about
mom&sci. How motherhood is a problem for women scientists. Or for
this particular woman scientist, is not a problem at all! Or it was a
problem, but no biggie, she just hacked a solution and voila! science
success! Or, she was clever enough to have all her success first,
and now her carefully planned baby is on the way! Why didn't you think
of that? Or she was smart enough to procreate somewhere that has decent
daycare and maternity leave, and to have a baby with no special needs!
Or it is kind of a problem but she is uber-confident she can work her
way around it just like she works her way around a lab bench! Whatever,
it is her problem and she is going to solve it herself!
Naturally, we wish daycare was more plentiful and affordable, and that
science careers were more forgiving of the demands of motherhood, but no
one wants to lower our standards, least of all our power-researcher
mothers, who want to be respected for their work and worry that any
special exceptions granted to them will make people question their skill
and so in the end it's best to do nothing so that we don't risk harming
their careers. Remember, it's motherhood that's the problem. Not gender
bias. Or dysfunctional work systems. Pay no attention to that
patriarchy behind the curtain.
Mom&sci isn't there to help you figure out how to make it in science. It's there to show you that whatever problems you might be having, they're all yours, because look here! these women are doing just fine! and we didn't have to fix science at all for them to succeed and have babies! Mom&sci is a suck it, bitches genre. The women profiled don't necessarily mean to be used so (though some of them do). The writers of the articles may not even realize they are doing the work of the patriarchy. But every time we devote words and energy to discussing How Women Can Be Mothers And Scientists Too! we are not discussing What The Hell Is Wrong With Science And How Can It Be Fixed.