I read a very interesting if depressing article in the New York Times by Natalie Angier yesterday about how difficult it is to be a woman scientist. Especially a woman scientist who would like to have a family.
According to this article when researchers asked faculty members in the University of California system about family and work issues, nearly 40 percent of the women agreed with the statement, “I had fewer children than I wanted,” compared with less than 20 percent of the men.
When researching my new book Believe Me I spoke to two wonderful women astronomers. Elise Laird at Univeristy of California Observatories and Amy C. Fredericks. They are both brilliant and fully engaged and fascinated by their field. Both are very young and childless so far.
They were very generous with their time and gave me details on how it was to be a woman in astrophysics these days. And I used that information to shape Lucy Delano, the mother who is an astrophysicist in Believe Me as a character.
I would love both my children to be scientists because the mystery is endless. But as Lucy discovers in Believe Me, the work/life balance of a female scientist can be grueling. I hope Elise and Amy’s careers flex enough for them to continue their fascinating work and incorporate the pitter patter of tiny feet should they so wish.
Photo by Suzanna (flickr)