Compounding the issue, recent studies suggest that female scientists, when coupled, still do about 54% of the housework (yay! Almost parity!). But let’s compare that to male scientists with partners – BAM! They do only 28% of the housework. Just from a selfish standpoint, how the heck can I compete with someone who has, on average, five extra hours of free time a week (Schiebinger and Gilmartin, 2010)? Five hours, they don’t even have to be spent on work. If I had five extra hours a week to unwind, man, I don’t know, I guess I’d spend more time online or reading bad books, but ideally, I’d spend it enhancing my life in real and productive ways.
But even without these temporal obstacles, women tend not to be as drawn to academia as men. That’s the part that I find most interesting: what are we responding to that drives us away? To some extent, there’s the OBC (old boy’s club) mentality. Then there’s the emphasis on women to pursue careers that add to the social good, you know, community involvement, “giving back.” Honestly, with the recent emphasis on strengthening broader impacts sections (basically, how will you use your research to build a strong community outreach program) in grant applications, I am beginning to see that this ivory tower vs. community involvement dichotomy is false. It’s still marketed as real, but there is a lot of potential for giving back within academia. Heck, even without having complex outreach plans, female faculty members can serve as models for future women academics.
Personally, I’m not sure if I’m going to stay in academia when I’m done with my doctorate. I’m really torn about it. One the one hand, I feel like there is so much I could do outside of academia and I don’t know if the constant fight for funding is for me. Honestly, I sometimes don’t feel like I “belong” in academia, and I know I am not alone in that. On the other hand, I like what I do and I love teaching/working with undergrads/having access to all these cool resources.
So how about you? Do you want to get a tenure track position? Why or why not? What are your experiences in navigating a career in academia?