Thursday, April 11, 2013

Full-Time Feminist

There is so much work to be done on so many fronts that occasionally I despair that I am not a full-time feminist. This morning I read Deborah Copaken Kogan’s article in The Nation* which ties so much of it together describing what it is like for a woman who is educated and privileged, just like me, making a career in an environment where we are held back in ways big and small from our full blossom.
            And I have multilevels of responses and I’ll list just a sampling here. Each is worthy of its own discussion.

  • Chime—this article is about me.
  • I am glad I am a scientist not a writer.
  • The author is one of those privileged New Yorky women types who drop their career to raise their kids at home.
  • Am I stupidly participating in one of those non-existent “mommy wars”?
  • Would I have larger numbers and more recognized published papers if I were A. Kavner?
  • Maybe I should change my professional name to A. K. Powers.
  • As a scientist I know that responses to-reviews are an integral important part of the publishing process. Perhaps the writing world can benefit from that instead of excoriating authors who respond to their reviews?
  • Science needs awards for Women Scientists as desperately as writers need an award.
  • Anger—this article is about me.

And my reactions are piling on my reactions, and as I’m sorting through and putting them aside-for-now so that I can get back to my papers, my proposal, stellar evolution virtual conference, my preparation for this afternoon’s plate tectonics lecture on mid-ocean ridges and magnetic anomalies, my office phone rings.

I pick up.

It is a friend, the wife of a colleague. Their son is sick and would I mind babysitting while colleague teaches his class?

Reader of this blog: now you react.

OK. Stop.

Let me write it again, the way I first wrote it.

It is a dear friend, who is the wife of a departmental colleague and friend. Their son, whom I adore, is perhaps a little bit too sick to go to daycare and would I mind watching over him while colleague teaches his class? I feel a bit wrenched as I say I can’t do it today. But yes—of course—next time, call—if I were able to—I would!

I learned this morning that I am concurrently a full-time scientist and a full-time feminist.


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