7 March 2011 – Pregnancy in Academia

March 7th, 2011 § 83 comments

Red and Brown

Sources:

Red-orange cardi – Zara in Germany years ago
Scarf – gift
Dress – thrifted
Belt – thrifted
Wooden bangle – thrifted
Tights – TJMaxx
Boots – Dillards
Pendant – Anthropologie (on thrifted chain)

Endnotes:

Since last week’s discussion on belting and corseting also delved into matters of pregnancy and academia, I thought it might be time to revisit this topic and give you an update on my experiences thus far. Now that I am decidedly more visibly pregnant, my ‘situation’ has come to play a more significant role in my interactions with students and other academics.

Unfortunately, I have encountered some less than encouraging comments from the administrative component of my home institution (where I am still a student finishing my degree), while I have not encountered anything of the sort at my visiting institution, where I am a lecturer. The two places are pretty different in terms of campus culture and institutional profile so I should not be surprised to have met with different reactions between the two schools. This has just confirmed to me (by way of a very subjective study with a very tiny sample pool) that there is no ONE reaction to expect when mixing family and children with career and academia. It all depends so much on your department, campus culture, institutional policies, and personal situation. This makes me wary of making any statements such as ‘having kids in academia is easy’ or ‘academics are totally unsupportive of their colleague’s family lives’. Neither statement is true nor false – it’s all relative and contingent upon a number of factors. So I guess a more constructive question to raise is what to do when your home institution isn’t the most supportive place it could be? Or, perhaps you have a supportive department, but not much in terms of a support system of nearby family members or friends – how do you manage to balance your childcare duties with your career obligations then?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to make parenting and a career work more smoothly. Anyone have any good tips?

A reader also asked whether our department’s reaction(s) to pregnancy influences our style and how much we’re willing to showcase our pregnant bellies. I’ll let E. speak for herself, but for me, getting dressed since being pregnant has been much of an exercise in continuing my pre-pregnancy style, which is what makes me feel most comfortable and happy when getting dressed. This means that I do showcase my belly as I was never one to hide in large or loose clothing to begin with. And wearing dresses from my pre-pregnancy days, as the one seen here, also means that the belly is pretty noticeable as the dress does not have built-in extra fabric. Again, it’s difficult to say how I would be thinking this through were I physically at the insitution that has made me feel a bit more self-conscious about my pregnancy, but being at a very supportive place, it’s been second-nature to dress as I want and to enjoy showing how my belly is changing week to week. I wrote this before about wearing a wedding band at interviews and how I don’t want to hide my committment to family and my personal life. So I guess my answer is that I don’t think I would stay or apply for a job at an insitution that made me feel like I had to hide my pregnant body for the fear of being taken less seriously (a majorly gendered issue since men don’t ever have to consider this when combining fatherhood with career) or hide the fact that family and children are going to be a part of my life. And so while I’m not changing my style now (within a supportive environment), I’d hope to be able to make that same claim in any environment seeing as how this is as much of an issue of gender equality and fair treatment (not having to hide one’s pregnancy) as it is a style choice.

Red and Brown Red and Brown

And before I end this, it also bears mentioning that reactions can vary even between departments at one and the same institution. Which certainly seems to be the case between my department and the one that E. and A. are currently in (both at the same institution). This to just further enforce the idea that blanket statements can’t be made.

I’d also love to address the topic of students and their reactions to the pregnant body in the classroom since they are the ones faced with my growing belly on a daily basis. But I’ll leave that discussion for another day. For now, please add your voice to this and chime in with any thoughts on what worked for you in navigating parenting and academia! Thank you! ~ S.

reds and browns Bangles

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§ 83 Responses to 7 March 2011 – Pregnancy in Academia"

  1. Alyssa says:

    Hello! I recently started reading this blog, and I just love it!

    While I was pregnant, I was working in two different departments. One (where I was working as a post-doc) was definitely more accepting than the other (where I had been a PhD student). Perhaps because there were more women and more people with younger families in the former? It’s really hard to say though, and i think it depends far more on the individual (at least in my case).

    I was hugely pregnant in August/September when all the students came with their parents for tours, and I got a lot of strange looks then!

  2. In our academic department, this varies even by individual faculty member. Several of my classmates have given birth in the past two years, and I have heard comments about this choice from both extremes. Some faculty members are extremely supportive, they happily work to accommodate the needs of new parents, and they fawn over the children when they see them. Others have said things that appall me. One professor has even gone as far as to say that a pregnant student who took a semester off to have her baby was “proving she is not committed to her work” and was “wasting the resources of the program.”
    I would say that people in our department who want to have children while working as graduate students would be wise to seek out the professors that will support them as whole people rather than just as graduate students. I’d say this is good advice for everyone, though– not just people who want to have kids.
    Thanks for raising this discussion, S. I’m really interested in your thoughts above, and I look forward to coming back to read the other comments after I finish my reading for today!

    • S says:

      Having a supportive department is indeed important. At my institution a professor told a student who just had a baby “if you want to graduate in time, I’d suggest you send your baby to India”. I think in such situations one really has to really tap their strength reserves if they want to make it.

  3. [...] you be interested, I write about dressing my pregnant body and navigating pregnancy in academia here today. Happy Monday! ~ S. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The Long Way There{my week in [...]

  4. Jeanni says:

    Well, while I’m still an undergrad and don’t currently have any pregnant professors, I had pregnant teachers in high school and have seen pregnant professors here. I could never understand a department or institution not supporting its members when they have a family. I suppose it’s the assumption (often incorrect) that women will leave their jobs to be mothers. I think family has to come first. I faced a fair amount of opposition from the people closest to me when I got engaged this year, and that’s just a decision with two adults, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to face that from a whole department regarding your child. I’m so sorry that anyone has to go through that, it’s terrible.

  5. elbee says:

    I worked as a undergraduate researcher in the biology department several years ago. Most of the graduate students were in their late 20s-mid 30s, and none were interested in having kids. Most were also male, and could easily wait to have children as soon as they were finished…but even the women wanted to put off having kids (or even having relationships as well) until they were finished.

    I got the sense that if you had kids, you weren’t really considered one of the “cool kids.” And even thinking about having children while working on a Master’s or PhD was frowned upon. After all, a lot of the grad students who finished took longer than other students at other institutions (on average, 7-8 years), and their rationale was “I don’t have time for it.”

    It affected me a lot, as I dated throughout college and considered starting a family, and I didn’t want people to look down on me, despite the fact that I had the work ethic and knowledge to get into a PhD program (almost) anywhere. I hid the fact that I maybe wanted to have kids, I just didn’t know when.

    #2′s example of the professor who made inappropriate remarks about a pregnant graduate student is basically what I experienced at my own university, and seemed to be the general consensus of the department. I thought it was a little disappointing. When I do decide to pursue my graduate degree, I will most certainly seek out someone in my department who will be supportive of my familial decisions.

  6. Rad says:

    I am one of the many “young” (under 40, not yet tenured) faculty in our smallish department of 20, and there have been 5 babies born in 3 years (4 of them in past 18 months). So needless to say, our department is quite supportive of having children. Only one of the faculty members was tenured. They were mostly male faculty members, and the one woman who had a baby is so accomplished and prolific that she is a shoo in for tenure. We are only 1/3 women, and the one senior woman in our department believes that it is very hard for women (not men) to have children in academia because you are always judged and never given flexibility. But the younger women in our department think differently- the new mom pumps in her office and stores the milk in the departmental fridge, the talk around the copy room is about babies, and people bring their beautiful children to parties and we all fawn over them. We all contribute to buying gifts for the newborns (just as they all contributed to a very nice wedding gift for us) and no one thinks poorly of the new parents who can’t attend our research seminars. So it really just depends on the department. Other departments in our school aren’t that nice or welcoming. I’m fortunate to have an awesome chair and great colleagues. But then again, I’m not at a research one institution, I’m at an urban comprehensive.
    At my graduate institution, an R1, some of the faculty, male and female, were meaner and less supportive. Perhaps some profs who fancy themselves as big fish in the academic pond are quite insecure and sometimes feel he need to be harsh?

  7. Karyn says:

    I’d say in general the situation can seem quite bleak for women (and perhaps men too) that want to raise a family and have chosen academia as their career. Recent research suggests that family concerns (and not differences in ability) are one of the major contributors to the gender gap in science and math fields in particular.

    But there are glimmers of hope too! For instance UC Berkeley offers paid (!!) maternity leave and deadline extensions for its doctoral students. Hopefully more universities and colleges will adopt supportive policies like this.

    • HokieKate says:

      Virginia Tech also offers six weeks paid maternity leave for grad students! Interestingly, there is no official paid maternity leave for faculty.

    • Rita Bento says:

      Thanks for this. I was getting pretty depressed at all the bad situations out there but I too was forgetting the example of my own funding body! The Foundation that funds my PhD also works under EU work rules so if any PhD student being funded by them is pregnant she will be entitled to paid maternity leave and deadline extensions according to the time she was away. :)

  8. Le says:

    My husband was in grad school when our first child was born– one of his advisors made a side comment suggesting that it was irresponsible for him to be having kids while in grad school. I was just one week post partum at the time, so needless to say, I was quite upset to hear that. Thankfully (for us) he’s out of academia now. So, I think in some cases it can be hard for the men too!

    • academichic says:

      Le – my husband is a PhD student as well and I know that it’s not always easy on the men, especially if the two partners share the responsibilities of childcare, which is what we’re planning to do. Fortunately, he has a very supportive advisor, which I think will make our lives easier as he’ll be able to be more flexible with his schedule and we can share child care duties when I go back to teaching.

      - S.

  9. Sarah says:

    Really interesting post!

    I’ve been trying to figure out this academia and family balance recently. I’m a first year PhD student in a 7 year program and know that I will want to have children around the end of the program. It helps that there are two professors, including my planned advisor, with children under 5 and two students with young children they had while in the program. However, my field and research interests require me to spend a year in east Africa right around when I would want to be timing getting pregnant.

    One of the students with kids is currently in the field in Cairo and, from what I’ve heard, struggled with whether to return and end her work early or stay and risk being in a dangerous situation with a one year old.

    • academichic says:

      Sarah,

      my PhD studies also required that I spend a year abroad (usually one’s fourth year). While some students take longer and only go abroad their 4th year, I made sure to stick to that schedule and go as soon as possible since I knew that we would be putting off starting a family until my return from Germany. Especially since my husband is also a PhD student and couldn’t leave his program for a year to go with me.

      So that was our plan – to wait and start having children AFTER my return from abroad. I don’t know if that’s an option for you guys, depending on when you’d be required to go and when you’re looking to start having children by. Good luck with whatever you decide!

      S.

  10. s says:

    First of all, your outfit is adorable, and you look great in it, even if it isn’t maternity! It would be a fun and fabulous outfit for anyone – pregnant or not. I say, flaunt the belly, and the belt actually does this.

    By way of representing the other side of things, I want to say that I am an academic who has decided not to have children because of her career.

    While I agree whole-heartedly with the comments of everyone above, and totally believe that the discrimination (however subtle and implicit, or horrifically explicit it may be) against academics who want to or have children is deeply upsetting and injust – indeed, I couldn’t possibly agree more, and I think about it all the time – I cannot fathom how I could possibly ever ever balance my career with children.

    I don’t think that applies to other people at all, and this is not my advice for others. I have seen several of my friends in graduate school have children and be very very successful in their careers – busting stereotypes and facing down nay-saying graduate advisors, professors and colleagues along the way.

    I am inspired by them, but I don’t think I could ever emulate them. I love children, and I used to work as a pre-school teacher. But I when I chose an academic career, I chose to give up the idea of motherhood. It’s sad, and I’m sad about it, but I know that’s the way it has to be for me. I guess that’s not very feminist (though I am definately a feminist), but it’s true for me, and I feel that I should represent this side of things in the discussion. Sometimes people don’t feel like they can balance it all. I think that should be seen as okay, too.

    • academichic says:

      S – thank you for sharing your perspective and adding that voice to the discussion!

      • S- Thank you for your sage and honest opinion. I have many friends – both academics and otherwise – who have chosen not to start families because of their careers. I respect and honor their choices, and I hope everyone here says the same thing. Heck, I watch my husband’s female colleagues (he’s a surgical resident) going through the same decision.

        I don’t IN ANY WAY think that motherhood makes a feminist. There’s no reason why your beliefs should take you out of this circle. Believing in something in general–even when you believe in it strongly–still might not make those beliefs right for you as an individual. There are so many factors that go into the decision to have a child. And, even though I have a baby, I still don’t think there’s a right decision. Again, thanks for sharing with us.

    • Eleanorjane says:

      What about women who just don’t want children? I feel very much like the odd one out when my colleagues and friends are all cooing over the latest baby. I quite like children who can talk (if they’re well behaved or at least well parented) and I enjoy young teenagers (used to be high school teacher) but I’d *much* rather cuddle a kitten than a baby!

      • Laura says:

        Eleanorjane, I’m much the same way. I love playing with my cousins’ kids, and my godson is one of the best ‘things’ that ever happened to me. But when I was snoozing on the couch with my godson in a milk coma on top of me, and someone asked me, now that I’ve had babies to play with, and I so obviously love my little man, when I want one of my own, I was downright horrified.

        Since when does liking kids mean I want to share my body with one and be responsible for it forever? And how on earth does it correlate that being a good feminist or being a good woman means I have to sublet my uterus to another human?

      • While I am fine with my colleagues having children and am both supportive and encouraging, I am not going to have children of my own. It also makes me uncomfortable when infants or toddlers are brought into my worklife by others and I am expected to interact with them or even watch them. This happened to me in the last academic institution where I was a young professor, and I just didn’t know what to do. A senior colleague brought her infant to my office and asked me to watch the baby on several occasions, making me feel like just because I was female and a bit younger, I became her babysitter.

        • Eleanorjane says:

          Ooh, that’s not right! I make it clear to everyone with a baby that I have no idea what to do with them so it’s not safe to leave them with me! I could look after an older child, but I wouldn’t expect to do it at work while I’m being paid to do an actual job!

  11. I think the varied responses you have garnered already illustrate just how charged this discussion is, and also how the responses are largely individual.

    I am lucky to be a part of a department in which a large number of graduate students have families, especially young children. Interestingly, most of those babies were born to male graduate students for a long period of time. Until me, really. A few PhD students who are women had children, but they invariably took the semester off–being blessed with husbands who could support them while they did so. I’m not that person–my husband is a medical resident, and he has neither the money or the time to allow me to stay at home with a child for any length of time. That being said, my teaching supervisor was amazing–she took me out of the classroom in the semester I was due (which was in March, so smack in the middle) and placed me as a research assistant to one of my favorite faculty. So, I worked hard from home until the end of February when The Pup arrived, then essentially took off until August–it was a great, great, great gift.

    I also could not be one of those lucky pregnant women who don’t let pregnancy affect their work. I was sick–unbelievably, frighteningly, incapacitatingly sick–for the majority of my pregnancy. I vomited through my comprehensive exams. And puked through my first semester of teaching. I passed out in front of my class of freshmen, and had to deal with the aftermath of the ambulance and the scared students. So, as much as I wanted to be the strong female academic who could look at everyone and say, “having a child will not affect my work in any way,” I couldn’t. And you know what? It ended up being just fine.

    I took my doctoral comprehensive exams while 5 months pregnant, and I was hospitalized 2 days prior. I told no one in the department, other than a very close friend who is also a student. I figured that I could always tell my advisor if I truly had a problem, but I didn’t want a SINGLE faculty member to believe I was currying favor or trying to get special treatment. I passed easily, and I didn’t tell my supervisor how sick I was until I received the results. Maybe that was pride. However, I know now that I was graded next to my peers with no hesitancies, and that makes me feel a million times better, especially since I’ve taken longer to get my proposal finished in the aftermath.

    I have been so lucky. My advisors–both teaching and academic–have been so supportive. My administration has helped me out wherever possible. However, I was a strong, independent student leading up to my pregnancy, so I don’t think they had any worries about me. I have seen differing responses to other students who are pregnant, and the responses end up revealing more about the type of student those women are than the pregnancy itself. If you’re someone who is continually asking for others to cover your classes, or extensions on papers, or extra time for assignments, it turns out that faculty worry if you’ll be able to handle the workload and the child–the response seems directed at the pregnancy when it’s actually questioning the overall fitness of the student. I was our department’s representative to the graduate association, involved with the academic senate, had stellar classroom evaluations and did strong work in all of my graduate courses. No one needed to worry about me–so they didn’t.

    So, the best advice I have about being a pregnant grad student is to make sure you are secure and stable in your department before deciding to have a child–if that’s possible. If they know you’re a good student, they’ll be less likely to give you any problems. And I think that’s true anywhere, whether academia or the professional sphere.

    (PS–One of my favorite professors of all time, at my undergrad institution, did her evaluations and interviews for tenure while 7.5 months pregnant. At a VERY conservative upper-tier school. She was an unbelievable inspiration. She was both eager to talk about her family, and excited to talk about her work, and she was the first woman I knew in academia who showed me that I could have both things in my life. So, thanks Dr. H!!!)

  12. I’ve never been pregnant, and while I work at a private university, it’s not in an academic capacity, so most of my thoughts on this topic come from my time as a student and observing the family situations of classmates/professors. I had a good friend as an undergraduate who gave birth to three (three!) kids during our four years. She and her husband were both earning their BAs in our department, actually, and I was just amazed by them. Our department’s faculty seemed to be very supportive and excited for them. I had classes with both husband and wife, and each of them would occasionally bring a daughter to class. It somehow added to the diversity of that setting, seeing that we had class participants of all backgrounds and, now, of all ages (toddlers included =). The acceptance demonstrated by the professors really spoke to their appreciation of diversity.

    Most of my professors were parents (whether of their own children or as guardians of family members’ children), and even those who weren’t were very open about their personal lives, so I think that kind of openness extended throughout the department. It was sort of utopian, honestly. I loved seeing firsthand how one professor in particular, my mentor, happily managed childcare responsibilities with his wife (an elementary school art teacher). My upbringing was characterized by very traditional gender roles in the family, and it was encouraging to see this great couple splitting up the work and the fun like it was no big thing. It was hugely educational and transformative for me, since it impacted the way I want to develop my own future family. I think that’s another dimension of this conversation, one I’d love to see addressed in your future post on the impact on students.

  13. My co-blogger Megarita went up for tenure (and promotion to associate professor) during her pregnancy, and I very much admire her for balancing her academic career with her choice to start a family. I can’t speak for her, but I get the sense that her department is fairly family friendly, as is my current institutional home. The majority of the faculty members in my department are married and have children. My PhD granting institution was also relatively family friendly for being an R1. Several female faculty members breast fed in their offices and had fridges for milk (and other things) in their offices, and both male and female brought their children around campus fairly regularly. My first term a faculty member left early to give birth to her first child and another faculty member stepped in to guide the seminar for the last couple of weeks. It took months to get feedback on written work from that term, but I think most of us were more understanding than annoyed.

    I have also seen and heard about less family friendly departments. While I wish that academic institutions (and the US in general) was better about granting maternity and paternity leaves and while I realize that women pregnancy and labor (and nursing) fall on women out of biological necessity, I can understand where some of the antipathy about this comes from. I have little desire to pick up extra committee work or have an even heavier teaching load because someone has decided to have children. Because I do view this as a choice. And all choices have consequences – good and bad. I have colleagues who more or less do not publish because they find it impossible to balance that with the required teaching load, committee work, and have a family life.

    The comment Liz heard a faculty member make is extreme, but remember that faculty are often only able to bring in a graduate student or two each year depending on the size of the program and the available financial resources. Attrition is a problem for a lot of graduate programs and placement rates have an impact on the ranking of programs and the amount of funding that they get from colleges, and, while this is purely impressionistic, my guess is that (for a variety of reasons – many unfair) that women who have children are less likely to finish their degrees, take longer to finish, and are less likely to get tenure track jobs at the end of them.

    • Hi LHdM–
      While I agree with you that there are valid reasons for an administrator to be concerned about attrition, TTD, funding availability, etc, what I took most offense to was the assumption that pregnancy could be equated with a lack of commitment. If this professor had responded to the initial pregnancy with a comments along the lines of “I hope it does not interfere with her studies,” I would have been fine with it. Likewise, if the student had significantly slowed in progress or had missed important benchmarks as a result of the pregnancy or child, I could even see validity for the “wasting the resources of the program” comment. What I disliked most was the assumption that merely because the student had conceived a child she must necessarily be less serious or hardworking as a student and was thus a burden to the program.

  14. eaubin says:

    Hi, I guess I’m not sure what is meant by the term “supportive.” I had two kids, both after tenure, so I can’t speak to the issue of being pregnant while in grad school or while untenured. However, I can say that I could really care less what the guy in the office next door to mine thinks about my family choices. It doesn’t matter. What matters is whether or not I get my work done, and if I do it well. And that’s where another version of “supportive” comes in–the extent to which your institution has set in place leaves, clock stops, etc., which I think are crucial to well being, if not to success. Sometimes we don’t have the choice of where we get a job, and sometimes we have to work somewhere that doesn’t have this kind of institutional support. IMO it is this support–and the support you get from family, caregivers, etc.–that really makes a difference.

    I hope you will all find this comment supportive, as it is meant to be. I would really recommend that you take down any pictures that show your faces, and cut off your heads (!) in future photos. Although you may feel like you are anomalies (ie, women academics interested in fashion), you are not, and I could imagine seeing any of you at MLA during a job interview and that would definitely color my opinion of you, whether positive or negative.

    And where did you ladies go to school, anyway? I never had a female professor in beige polyester–Armani and Prada was more like it.

    • Julia says:

      I’m curious to know where you’ve gone to school and worked!
      I can’t speak to anyone else’s experience of academia, but after undergrad at a large research institution and now graduate school at a mid-sized liberal arts school, I can tell you that the ratio of remotely fashionable to boxy, wrinkled, and generally schlumpy among all of my professors was easily 1:10. I can recall from my experience in three departments at two schools over five years, no “stylish” professors at all. Plenty who dressed fine, but no one who dressed sharp.
      (Though it’s entirely conceivable my experience has been anomalous! Two schools is hardly a statistically significant data set.)

    • Snort. I would love to meet the professor that wears only Armani and Prada! Neither of my universities, either undergrad or grad–both urban, both R1–had a single professor in that mold.

      If you don’t believe in what these women are doing in this space, that’s your opinion. However, you also seem to insinuate that the concept of sartorial choice–whether Prada or vintage–is somehow superfluous, and that they should hide their interest in such topics. Which is rather interesting, considering you are reading and commenting on them.

      • eaubin says:

        Hi, I regret that my comment seems to have come off to some as snarky or negative. It was not meant to be at all. Indeed, my female professors (of which I had only a few about 20 years ago, but all Chaired, high powered, with salaries to match) at two big East Coast urban Ivy Leagues wore Armani and Prada, among other notable labels. Perhaps that is not the overall experience of the bloggers here, but I did want to mention there are very fashionable women in academia, and that that has been my personal experience–not frumpy polyester.

        In terms of cutting off heads, I was trying to be helpful. I am not judging the bloggers because of their interest in fashion. I was saying that other academics interested in fashion may come across this blog, and may end up being on the other side of the table during interviews, which have been mentioned as something some posters are doing (wearing a wedding ring was mentioned as being a choice). I think that there are some sensitive issues about academia being discussed here, and not all individuals or institutions are open to these kinds of comments. People have been fired for Facebook. It’s not right, and perhaps you can say you don’t want to work at a place like that–but I’m just saying it might be something to consider. To address the clothing/personal content here, in my experience, both as an inteviewer and an interviewee, sharing this kind of information can be either positive or negative. Again, just trying to be helpful in suggesting that anonymity might be something bloggers want to consider.

        • eaubin says:

          By the way, let me address more generally the “being judgmental” idea by sharing my experience as a member of more than a dozen academic search committees. They are by nature judgmental beasts, and some are more beastly than others. Some things are personal quirks, some things are just nastiness and power trips, some things are out of your control, whatever. I don’t advocate paranoia, but being smart and savvy is another thing. When I read here, for example, that someone is having trouble finishing their diss, and a photo is attached, and then by chance that person ends up being interviewed by me, I can tell you that that will affect my assessment of whether or not the person will be successful in getting tenure. I would not vote to give a job to someone who was posting some of the things I see here. Again, I am just trying to be helpful, as one female academic to others. If it’s helpful, great, if not, great. In any case I wish everyone well.

          • Allie says:

            I think your objections are out-of-date. Anybody searching for future grad students on the web in years to come is going to find a WEALTH of personal information and photographs, many of which will be of a far more “compromising” nature than a thoughtful, professionally written and updated fashion blog. I also wonder precisely which grad student you have ever known who did NOT have any problems finishing his or her dissertation. Or is normal human honesty the kind of thing that gives you second thoughts?

    • Rita Bento says:

      In Europe at least (I can’t speak for US Academia of which I have no experience) I guess you could find such professors in Law, Economy or Management departments…In the rest of academia (life sciences, social sciences, humanities) you would not find anyone who would even care to spend the money on that. When it’s so difficult to get funding for research, who would spend it in expensive yet rather common brand names? As the women in this blog demonstrate so well, you don’t have to dress expensive clothes to look respectable, academia and career-ready! Why should they hide their faces by the way? For someone who wouldn’t care about what the person next door thinks it seems you would be pretty quick to judge others…

      • eaubin says:

        I believe some bloggers here may be familiar with Elaine Showalter’s works. However, you may not be familiar with her 1997 Vogue article on being a professor who loves fashion. You can Google it if you are interested. And yes, she is a Humanities (English) professor who spends her $$$ on Prada.

  15. Lilybett says:

    My husband and I are trying to conceive at the moment. I’m a non-tenured lecturer and he’s a PhD student (jn another department). I’d like to know how you’ve handled teaching and morning sickness, if that’s been an issue at all. It’s my one concern really about being pregnant in academia – having to ‘perform’ while feeling rotten.

    • admin says:

      Lilybett -

      sounds like you’re in a similar set up as my husband and I.

      I can only speak for myself and this in no way predicts what your experience will be like, but with that said – I was very lucky to have no morning sickness. I did get nauseaus during the first trimester but usually in the evening. And I never threw up. My biggest obstacle during the first trimester was fatigue! I was so tired all the time. But fortunately, I would feel best in the mornings and feel increasingly tired as the day went on. This worked out with my teaching schedule as I taught both my fall courses in the morning and I still teach all three of my current Spring courses in the morning as well. So my students got the best of me and then I’d crash right around lunch time. But I was still able to lesson plan and even get some research done in the afternoon, I’d just work at a much slower pace. Even with that obstacle, I got great end of the term evals from my students and was able to meet my deadlines on my dissertation work for my advisor.

      But it was tough, I felt TIRED all the time.

      This magically dissapeared right around 12 weeks. I couldn’t image ever feeling better and then one day I did. Now, in my second trimester, I feel just like I used to (minus the extra weight). I teach 3 courses, I’m working towards turning in a chapter of my diss. that I will have written entirely this semester, and I’ve been advising a student group (requiring me to stay late on campus on some nights, meaning I’m here from 8 am to 8 pm) and I’ve been juggling some various other projects as well. I NEVER during the first trimester would have thought this level pf productivity would be possible again (during my pregnancy), but it is.

      All that to say that you should not dispair if your first trimester is a period of less work and less productivity. I think in most pregnancies, the first trimester is the worst and whatever ailments you experience then, they usually go away as you get into your second and third trimester. Not always, as poor Amy (above) related. But even she sounds like she still managed to be successful and productive, despite what sounds like a pretty tough pregnancy.

      I am usually most productive in the morning and that’s proven to have remained the case during my toughest pregnancy period. So it worked out that I had scheduled my teaching and university committments to early in the day, all back to back.

      Again, I don’t know how this would hold true for you, but perhaps thinking of when you function best and lining things up to take advantage of that time period might prove helpful. And just remember that your first tri. is not indicative of what the remaining 6 months will be like, so go easy on yourself then and remember that most likely it will get better as soon as you hit that 11-13 week mark.

      Ok, very long response, but I hope that helps a bit! Good luck as you navigate those waters!

      - S.

    • It sucks. But you survive.

      I always knew where to run if I had to throw up. It became a running joke for my freshmen students, and they were amazing about the situation. I threw up between every question of my comprehensive exams. I threw up during a meeting with a Dean. I threw up out the car window while driving in to campus to teach at 8am. I threw up at a poetry reading. It happens. To some of us, often. And there’s NO WAY to know if that’s going to be you!

      Be discreet. Have a good sense of humor. And realize that there’s not much you can do about it. Good luck in your pregnancy journey.

      • academichic says:

        Yikes, Amy, that’s intense! I guess all you can do at that point is try to have a good sense of humor about it and laugh about it, I think your attitude sounds wonderful! I hope I’d have handled it as well.

        I do want to note that my students have been really good about my pregnancy. They often ask about the baby before class, but once class starts, it’s all business. So it’s been a good balance of caring but not having it be a distraction either.

        S.

        • S, your distinction here is sublime regarding before and during classtime–before class, they asked me questions about the nursery, we made jokes about where I had thrown up that week, and I asked them about their weekend plans. Once class began, we were “all business.” I think the divide of time–arbitrary though it might be–was absolutely necessary. Even when I was puking in the hall, I usually managed to squeak out a freewriting prompt as I ran out the door. And every single time I walked back in the room (following a quick mouth rinse), they were assiduously writing away. Those responses are some of the best I’ve ever received, and their impromptu nature led to some of the best breakthrough moments of the semester.

    • pregnant says:

      I’m currently in my first trimester, and my nausea has been so bad that I’ve nearly had to be hospitalized due to dehydration from throwing up. They prescribed me an anti-nausea medication. I was hesitant to take it because I don’t want to do anything that could harm the baby, but the doctors told me that what my body was doing was extremely harmful to the baby. The medicine works like a charm, so on days that I know I absolutely cannot miss work, I take it before I wake up.

      • pregnant says:

        Take it before I *get* up. Can’t take it before I wake up, obviously. And I realize this is a personal choice that not everyone would make, but it is definitely an option that’s available to you if the sickness gets unbearable.

    • Daria says:

      I had a similar experience with S. No morning sickness at all, just some nausea and incredible tiredness in the first semester, and during evenings only. I felt great though for the next six months, and I kept active right until my due date. In fact, I was writing my dissertation at that point, and I had weekly meetings with my adviser, trying to have my first draft ready before having my baby. Unfortunately, in my field (Economics) some models work, and some don’t, and what I was working on at that time didn’t. So all my work did not yield the paper that I needed. Looking back I still think that those last six months of my pregnancy have been some of my most productive, and even the first three months were OK.

  16. Kate says:

    I have been pregnant as an undergrad, graduate student and as a new member of faculty ( three kids over 7 years!) and found that generally staff were wonderful – I’m in the humanities, lots of women, and my head of department was a woman who’d done her PhD when her kids were teenagers (after her husband died). I took babies to meetings, faculty parties, and even lectured 2 weeks post partum while one of our lovely professors (man in his 50s) walked the baby up and down outside the lecture theatre. Most of the men in my field were in their 40s with kids/or granddads – so they reacted well too. My 2 professors that I have friendships with from that time are both grandfather types who loved having the babies come to meetings/looked out for me while preganant.

    However, the students were a whole other story – I did find that male students seemed most disconcerted by my pregnant body – either overly interested or totally ignoring it; feamle students seemed to manage a little better. I did have one young man get quite obsessed with me and the baby during pregnancy number 2 and had to have him shifted out of my class and eventually take a protection order, as he kept turning up at home – he was unwell, obviously, but it was my pregnancy that seemed to trigger the obsession. And then after baby no#2 was born, I wa still sharing an office with 2 other grad students (men) and there was nowhere to breastfeed except in the office – our kitchen had no seating…. those 23 year olds did well (they’re still good friends) at looking at the wall. I think since then there are now more places for feeding/changing etc on campus ( I work at a different university now). My current campus has support people for returning parents to link up with for returning to work and there are breastfeeding locations and storage fridges on each floor.

    Generally, I think the pregnant/breastfeeding body is one that some people do find confrontational or marginal – it is neither here nor there, the ultimate liminal state. But working in the humanities where we like to think we’re good with liminal states seemed to have advantages. AS does the fact that academic men (terrible generalisation follows) seem to be better at shared care and thus better at understanding mummy pressures. For example, current boss (economist) always starts meetings at 9.30 am so that people can get kids off to school without too much pressure. (He is late 50s, 3 teen/twenties kids). That’s one of the reasons I love my job.

  17. DM says:

    S,
    It is unfortunately not surprising that your home institution and the institution you are a lecturer at have very different attitudes towards pregnancy/motherhood, regardless of differing prestige levels. Lecturers are, unfortunately, often treated as “disposable” commodities hired to avoid having to hire tenure-track faculty, while grad students in PhD programs represent a major commitment of time and money (despite the fact that grad student labor is also “cheap” (inexpensive) labor that universities rely on to do the grunt-work of language and writing instruction).
    That said, it is extremely encouraging to me (as someone who waited to have kids until landing the t-track job, but not until actually getting tenure) to see that female grad students are more able to plan to have children during grad school and that they often have important communities of other grad student mothers (I say mothers, not parents, because no matter how you cut it, this road is much harder for women than for men). In many ways, academia is still such a very difficult road for women, despite all the lip-service which is paid to diversity, and advancements at certain universities re: family leave.
    The bottom line is that it is JUST HARDER to have children at the grad student or pre-tenure stage for women than not. Many women who do so in grad school don’t finish or don’t get t-track jobs. Many of those who do so pre-tenure don’t get tenure. I know many examples of both (and I am working as hard as I can not to fall into the latter category, but we shall see.) But, many others do make it through, though you do have to adjust your expectations — whether drastically (give up the idea of a t-track job) or in smaller ways. Yet at the end of the day, neither your job nor your tenure will not love you back. You will not regret your choice, I assure you!!

  18. DM says:

    meant: “neither…will love you back.” (Of course! :)

    • admin says:

      DM – thanks for chiming in and also pointing out something that I have given some thought to as well. I think it’s not only an issue of my home institution (where I am a PhD student) being a private R1 place vs. my host insitution (where I am a lecturer) being a public state school that makes a difference. I think you’re right in pointing to the difference in position – grad student vs lecturer – as well. As a grad student, just as a t-track professor, you’re expected to perform by certain deadlines, produce quantifiable research and writing, and ‘prove yourself worth’ the financial investment that your institution has made in you.

      As a lecturer, I’m just required to teach and do that well. But once my semester ends, I get no health care benefits, no maternity leave, nothing. My contract is simply not renewed for the period that I am post-partum and at home with the baby. So as you’ve noted, it’s harder to be unfriendly to the cheap paid help that is simply ‘disposed’ of when no longer useful.

      In my case, although my husband is also a grad student, I am able to be added to his insurance and continue to receive health care coverage for the end of my pregnancy and delivery. I am horrified to think of all the hard-working and long-laboring (no pun intended) mothers who come this far in their careers to find themselves out of work and uninsured once they are pregnant. As is the case with most lecturers and adjuncts and anyone almost done with their PhD, recently done, and trying to still land that t-track job in this really tough economy.

      Even more horribly do I feel for those who are not in a traditional marriage, for whom the system does not account. Those who have partners or same-sex spouses, who are not legally recognized, and cannot share with their pregnant significant others their health care benefits.

      No matter how you cut it in the “parenting is a choice” debate – I think we can still agree that our policies and social system could do better in supporting those making the choice to give birth to and raise the our future generations.

      - S.

      • Daria says:

        This is so interesting. I had a baby while being halfway through my disertation, and three years later I am still there. So, in my experince, having a child has slowed me down. I am lucky to have a very supportive supervisor, and I must admit that most of the blame for my delay rests on me. If I were more disciplined with my time I would have graduted already. I guess I am one of those you all should try not to be. I am planning to graduate this year though.

        However, I actually wanted to write about something else. I teach Gender Economics this semester and one of the most interesting ideas in this class is the way we view children. The traditional view is that having children is a personal choice, and so parents are responsible for all the costs this choice entails. Nancy Folbre describes this view as “children as pets”. However, she points out that children should be viewed more as “public goods”, that means something that benefits the whole socitey, not just their parents. Having educated, productive future generations will ensure there will be someone to produce goods for us, pay taxes, and generally sustain our society as we grow older. And so, since everybody, parent or childless, will someday benefit of these children, everybody should contribute towards the effort of raising this children. Otherwise, those who get to benefit in the future from these kids without having helped/paid for raising them are just “free riders”.

        Excuse my spelling mistakes- this is my longest comment ever and my first writen on an IPad.

        • admin says:

          Thanks for this perspective, Daria! I have often thought of children’s role that way but wasn’t sure how to articulate it. But I do often think that children don’t just benefit the parents but are necessary for sustaining a culture and a country. Having children that are raised by parents who get the assistance from their community that they need results in more stable, well educated, and happy individuals to take over leading our countries in the future.

          When I lived in Austria a good few years ago, they were struggling with decreasng birth rates that weren’t sustaining their population. There were commercials on TV advertising procreation and the government was offering all kinds of incentives (which may or may not have in place already) to make having children more feasable – “Kindergeld” (children’s allowance), parents leave, health care, etc. When we treat child bearing as an individual choice, we lose track of the bigger picture, and the fact that we also need people to have children, and offer those children the best resources and opportunities, so that there will be well raised generations to take over as adult once they are grown.

          Also, I’d like to add that I understand parenting and having children from a very liberal perspective, which to me includes same-sex partners, non-traditional family set-ups, and adoptive parents. I think anyone taking on the raising of a child should receive community support, kind of in the “it take a village” vein. And I also don’t think that having children is a must or that it makes you some kind of superior individual, more selfless, or more ‘female’ (if mothering) in any way. I want to stress that as well. I just think that those who do have children should be afforded help which in turn benefits the community at large when that child is grown.

          I’d love to hear if you have any good reading recommendations from your course on this! Thanks!

          S.

          • Daria says:

            I am glad I could add something to this fascinating discussion. The textbook I am using for my Gender Economics class is “Women and the Economy” by Saul Hoffman and Susan Averett. I actually took over this class from somebody else, so I plunged straight into the Fertility chapter (ch. 5) and I have found it fascinating. Many of the points you are making I absolutely agree with, child-friendly policies like those you have seen in Austria are also very common in Scandinavia, and it helps them to achieve some of the highest fertility rates in Europe. However, with the exception of US, no country in the Western close is even close to the replacement rate (the number of children we should have to keep our population constant), which is about 2.1 children for each woman.

            If you can find this book in your library I definitely recommend it. It does a pretty good job explaining things intuitively, without too much use of heavy economic jargon.

  19. LaurenPhD says:

    Hi all. I just discovered this web site today and this is a fascinating and very important conversation. I’d like to recommend a book: “Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life,” edited by Elrena Evans and Caroline Grant. It is a very thought provoking book of essays written by female academics in various states of their careers – grad students, postdocs, professors, and those who have left academia. It definitely conveys a lot of the ups and downs about combining motherhood with academic life.

    • admin says:

      Thanks, LaurenPhD, for mentioning a great resouce! I can only second that, I read it cover to cover when I first came across it and was thinking ahead to my having kids while still a grad student. I found it encouraging to read of so many women with different situations making it work.

      - S.

      • Loose Teeth. says:

        The Mommy Track pretty much turned me away from pursuing a Ph.D. in modern languages, because I realized I wasn’t willing to take the sacrifices academia offered. But then, the corporate world is not always more welcoming.

        I’m sure you’ve also read Ms. Mentor’s two books. She may paint a discouraging portrait of being a woman in academia, but I can’t help but agree with what she says. It’s not a pretty world out there, but you only live once. And anyway, I had a great translation prof who started her career much later in life, after her kids had grown up a bit. She got tenure and was our Academic Women’s Association rep in the department.

        I was stressing out over this topic myself, trolling academic librarian forums, when I came across someone who said that women can have a family and a career. But it’s all a matter of timing. TRUE DAT, as the gangstas say.

        I wish you luck! There are no perfect answers, only personal ones. I am sure you will be successful in all you do.

        <3

    • Sue says:

      I was going to recommend this book because I have it and it is great! I’m a grad student in the sciences and this book opened my eyes to MANY injustices in academia. For instance, I had no idea that some departments do not even have maternity leave for faculty! It is an important read for every woman whether they will have children or not. Most of the situations mentioned also apply in the corporate world. I witnessed it growing up and also lived it as my mother worked while raising a family.

      • Sue says:

        Correction to my post above: “I witnessed it while working and also lived it growing up as my mother worked while raising a family”

  20. Amanda says:

    I find the attitude of your colleagues extraordinary. I’m in Australia where it is ILLEGAL to discriminate (that includes commentary) if one is pregnant!!

    • Amelia says:

      It is illegal in the U.S., too. But that is not to say that it does not happen. Furthermore, de factor discrimination will always exist.

    • Geneviève says:

      It’s the same in Canada, where mat. leave (up to 1 year if you want) is paid for by the state and can be taken by either one of the parents. This is all just incredible to me.

    • M. says:

      I’m Australian, and currently a post doc at an overseas institute (biomedical sciences). I have been asked what my plans are with regards to having children in every job that i’ve gone for (In Australia and in the UK). The lab heads have subtly and not so subtly implied that I would not be considered for a position if having children was part of my immediate future. (It’s a demanding position, I’ve only got funding for 3 years, there are strict time lines associated with the project etc etc etc etc)

      It may be illegal to do so, but these questions are still asked, and women are still discriminated against because of pregnancy.

  21. pete langman says:

    I think the real crux of the biscuit here is simple.

    The way one is treated in academia when pregnant depends on one’s status. As a lecturer (and I mean this in the english sense, not in the sense of doing some teaching while a postgrad), one has a position, and rights enshrined in law. The department must accommodate. Simple.

    As a student potentially looking for a job, it is a different story. While it’s illegal to discriminate, only a fool would think that it doesn’t change the way you’re viewed (by interviewers of both genders). In similar fashion, those with chronic conditions, or who are simply not ‘young’, are theoretically on a level playing field with the young and healthy … only a fool would think it was really that simple.

    And non of us are fools, right?

  22. BoneGirl says:

    I decided that the best time to have a baby was during grad school (as we anthropologists take a long time to get a PhD). During pregnancy, I taught two classes. The first one, an upper-level course, was during my first trimester, and I didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone in my department about the pregnancy until I’d secured funding for the next semester. Being pregnant made me super cranky towards the students. They’d come in late from a dorm a few hundred yards away, whereas I’d hauled my pregnant butt out of bed at 6am to make it to class on time. But I had an easy first trimester, so no one knew until I told them over the winter break. By the second semester, I was showing, but not very much if you didn’t already know me. So I made a joke the first day of class about how we’ll all “grow together” through the semester. My students were all fine with my pregnancy; some asked about it, some didn’t. All of them wished me well when we parted for the summer.

    I had my daughter a few months before I went on an external fellowship to finish my dissertation. My department was supportive – they didn’t have to support me financially, after all – and my advisor was quite supportive. Personally, I found that having only 20 hours per week of babysitting time made me incredibly productive: nothing like paying someone else to take care of your kid to make you organize your thoughts and your time!

    Now I’m on the job market, but I can’t really look at short-term jobs (1 year visiting professorships, etc.) because I don’t feel like I can move a family. I’m hoping to find a job at a school that values me for who I am – not just for what I do.

  23. Thanks so much for this thread, S. I read it this morning and thought about it from time to time today. My home institution is relatively family friendly and, as I’ve mentioned before, 1/3 of my colleagues are parents. We have baby showers in which both men and women come and, sometimes, even invite faculty/committee members (very dependent on who faculty/committee members are and their relationship to their expectant student). But I don’t think that the “friendliness” comes from the Institution or faculty as much as the fact that an average of 1.75 grad students a year have a baby in my department. There’s really no point in being unfriendly to it if it’s become somewhat “normal” at least. Especially because all of those pregnant and/or parenting grad student produce good scholarship. And they seem to be the most productive of my colleagues. Personally, I think that ABD-land is a great time to have a baby, at least for a woman who is actually going to be gestating and nursing. For male partners or adoptive parents, it might not be the case. I see what junior faculty or VAPs go through and it just looks drastically more demanding than being ABD.

    What I found most interesting in your post is that you seem to be getting more reactions from your growing belly from people who knew you were pregnant when your belly was less “pregnant-looking.” A friends mother, who happens to be a feminist theorist, told me about how the pregnant body becomes a public body whether we want it to be or not.

  24. [...] I’ve enjoyed reading all of your comments on S.’s post about pregnancy in academia. I recommend the book Mama, Ph.D., edited by Elrena Evans and Caroline Grant, for anyone interested [...]

  25. notacomputeruser says:

    I’m pregnant in my last year of my phd (I hope but I’m also in year 5 of officially a 4 year program). My area group has been really supportative. It helps that I’m the second phd student in the area group to be pregnant this year. Also one of my supervisors had a baby in my first year of my phd so she’s very understanding. But almost all of the profs in my area group have kids. The other area groups are not as understanding I’ve heard.
    The one thing they are worried about is that I’ll lose momentium and struggle to finish my thesis with a baby/child. So while I’m taking a term or two off (still trying to decide how long) I’m still invited to our weekly meetings to discuss my research and do as much or as little work on it while I’m off as I’d like. I’m attempting to time it so I get my draft done before I go into labour and then they have a term to comment on it before I start my revisions. Full-time graduate students at my school get maternity leave and pay for the terms you take off which makes the decision much easier.

  26. Beth says:

    I’m not in academia, but I am a working mom. I think my best advice to being successful as a two-working-parent household (even if you’re not teaching again right away, but still tyring to make progress on your dissertation) is to get help from somewhere. It may be tempting to try to do it all yourselves if you both have more flexible schedules, but be open to finding some ways to earn yourself some time and sanity. I have friends with flexible at-home part-time jobs who have babies or young kids, and seeing them try to juggle squeezing in work when the child is napping or the other parent takes charege of child care for an hour or two runs them ragged (and this is only trying to find 10-15 hours a week to do work).

    Whether it’s hiring a college student to care for the baby while you work (even if you are working at home) for a few hours or hiring someone to do your house cleaning or yard work, it helps immensely to outsource SOMETHING so you can be successful at staying on track (especially if you’re concerned about proving to your home institution that you are still commited to completing your degre obligations in a timely fashion). My husband and I both work full time, but have somewhat alternative work schedules and our toddler only spends three days a week in the care of a non-parent and four days with one or both of us. And we pay someone to clean our house so we can spend time with our child instead of always trying to do chores when we are together.

    I’m confident that it is possible to be successful at work and happy with your family life. You will find what works for you.

  27. madam0wl says:

    You might know my story but I’ll share here anyway. I was pregnant and had my third child while TA lecturing (was primary instructor) two courses, the year before I got my Masters. I delivered the week after Spring finals. The students all placed bets on when it would happen. My department was fairly understanding during all that, even seemingly promising me a fulltime lecturer’s position upon graduation. But then, after having the baby and busting ass to get my thesis done the following spring (plus still teaching), they ended up hiring a tenure-track assistant professor who would be able to teach one of the courses I had been teaching and therefore they could only promise me a parttime lecturer position, only responsible for a 3 section 1 credit course. My contract wouldn’t have covered the expense of childcare, let alone driving expenses. So I declined their offer. Also, as a Plan B, I’d toyed with continuing on for my PhD, which they were supportive of (because then they could still get me to teach), but I had such a bad taste in my mouth about the whole lecturer promise that I backed out of that too.

    Once all three boys are in full day school, I might consider going to get a PhD or MFA in order to be more marketable as a faculty member. Maybe. If I had it to do over again, I’d have gotten my Masters before my first child, at a different state univ., then had second child, then move home and go for my at PhD while having my third. I think if I’d have been pregnant early in on a PhD instead they’d have offered me the assistant professor position. Oh well. Lesson learned. From my experience, I’m pretty jaded.

  28. [...] Pregnancy in Academia (from the awesome blog: acadmichic) [...]

  29. quietdomino says:

    This is very late, but I found this thread fascinating and wanted to share my experience. I have 3 kids; the first born during grad school at a high-powered R1, the second two pre-tenure at a public, slightly less high-power R1. Our department certainly qualifies as family-friendly–many kids among the faculty and grad students, policies of stopping the clock, flexible teaching, etc. A recent and very successful hire gave her job talk 7 months pregnant. All this, I think, a function of a female chair and a commitment to retention through policy (if not salary!).

    However, what I want to stress is that I think none of these benefits are solely laden upon those who choose to have children. Committee flexibility, tenure clock-stopping, etc., have all benefited faculty and students who have had serious illnesses themselves or have needed to care for ill family members, among other reasons. Academia is a more than full time job and your family gets pulled into it as much as you do. This happens whether or not your family happens to include children. This makes policies that allow work-life balance important for everyone, at all levels.

  30. Jess says:

    Great discussion! It has definitely got me thinking, since I just applied to a PhD program shortly after having a baby. I do have my master’s & I think my experiences are different than those that are talked about here. Granted, I wasn’t pregnant & didn’t have a child during my master’s, but my program was in Library Science & from what I’ve seen & heard, it is a supportive environment. My master’s program was very flexible, so students could go full-time & finish their degree in the minimum amount required, or students were able to take one class per semester (they would have to go during summer semester, too). The program offered a lot of night classes, which I know a lot of working moms (& dads) took advantage of. Maybe that’s just the field of library science? Any other librarians out there who can confirm or offer a different perspective?

  31. LaurenPhD says:

    I’m not sure if anyone is still reading this thread, but this article was posted today in the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

    http://chronicle.com/article/The-Pyramid-Problem/126614/

    The author, Mary Ann Mason, has done extensive research and publication on the effects of having children on academic careers. It is sobering, but important for everyone to read, especially all of you grad students who are going on the job market soon.

  32. [...] friend of mine sent me this link to an academic fashion blog (oxymoronic?  apparently not!) in which one or two of the posters are currently (or recently?) [...]

  33. Katie says:

    I’m so glad I found this blog, but I’m really disappointed to see Target so frequently featured as a place to find cute accessories and clothes. Target used to be a first choice for cute shoes and clothing for me, too, until the CEO Gregg Steinhafl donated $150,000 to virulently anti-gay political candidates in Minnesota last year. Despite pressure from groups like the Human Rights Campaign, Steinhafl dispensed some lame defense about not “being on either side of the aisle.” Either you are for human rights or not. I began boycotting them then and was even more resolved in this with their recent lawsuit against marriage equality canvassing in one of their shopping centers parking lots last week. Days ago, Lady Gaga severed her business dealings with Target as a distributor of her merchandise and albums. As an activist, feminist and gay academic, I think consumer consciousness–choosing to purchase from ethical sources–is probably the most important “fashion statement” I can make.

  34. elizabeth says:

    Wow now try this in science! I choose not to attempt biochem grad school because I wanted to have kids. It became clear to me this would be a one or the other situation because of the time comitment. Later I realized there were other issues. Cancer reseach while pregant?? Organic solvents?? Radioactive labels? Raw pigs blood exposure?? (Really I wish I was kidding) Basic safety issuse come up for women in chem, bio,ploymeres, engineering, ect achediema and industry.

    • LadyElizabeth says:

      Lots of women in the sciences continue their research while pregnant. Be cautious, but there’s no need to be paranoid.

  35. Kelly says:

    I am a fourth year PhD student in counseling psychology. In my four years here, while there have been several marriages and engagements, one female student in my program has had a baby. She already had three children, and took a semester off after she had her fourth child. Her adviser (a woman who has chosen not have children and was recently promoted to full professor), has seemed very supportive of her family, for example, allowing her to hold meetings via Skype when her children have been sick and she had to stay home. I am not married and do not have any children, but personally, I would find it very challenging to have had a child in my program just because of the time constraints as my schedule is usually very demanding. If I had a child during this program, I probably would have chosen to take some time off or stop working an assistantship and taken out more loans instead.

    One of my good friends is a PhD student in biomedical engineering at my institution and she is about 5 months pregnant with her first child. Her first semester was particularly challenging for her healthwise, so she often had to stay home from the lab because she was sick. She wants to go into academia, and wonders what it will be like raising her child and finishing her PhD and starting her career. I’ve forwarded this blog post to her, and I hope that she comments about her experiences.

  36. [...] brought up the discussion of pregnancy in academia, a very lively discussion ensued, which you can find here. In that last post, I mostly talked about the reactions of colleagues and ‘superiors’, [...]

  37. Stephanie says:

    I’m not currently in school, though I have plans to get my degree, but my husband is. We’re in Montana, and I’ve noticed that even though he is in a program to get his bachelor’s, (not as demanding as a higher degree program) people seem to be very accepting of the fact that we have a 5 month old. However, when I was at a community college and pregnant, it was a whole different story. Here there are kids everywhere, because this is a popular school for undergrads/grads, and obviously not everyone is going to put off kids until their degree is done. But back at the cc, I stood out like a sore thumb, and people treated me like pregnancy was something to be scared of! However, I did have one prof who was extremely encouraging while I was in school and just getting through morning sickness. I think it just depends on the people…there will always be some people who find pregnancy and children repulsive. That’s just part of life!

  38. [...] Pregnancy in Academia (from the awesome blog: acadmichic) [...]

  39. [...] very seriously (especially when writing about matters such as coming out as an ally, navigating pregnancy in academia, dressing for a new faculty position, the importance we accredit to visible gendering, and what [...]

  40. [...] you be interested, I write about dressing my pregnant body and navigating pregnancy in academia here today. Happy Monday! ~ S. Posted on March 7, 2011 by simplybike. This entry was posted in [...]

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  43. Anika Merida says:

    I owned the original Baby Bjorn with my first son and liked that I had my hands free, but didn’t like the unbearable shoulder pain after walking around!

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