While mulling these rather depressing thoughts, I came across this article in the Washington Post, talking about the difficulties of parenting while pursuing a career in business. You could easily substitute "business" for "science" and "executive" for "professor" and everything Sharon Meers says applies equally well. Some choice quotes from the article:
When a father of small kids is late or looks dazed in a meeting, we're more willing to assume it's an aberration, a passing phase, and he'll snap back to top form because he values his job. We give him the benefit of the doubt. Do we give women the same?
After spending a weekend with his kids alone, one male executive told me, "If every man in Congress had to do this, we'd have some very different laws."
Meers writes that VP Joe Biden is setting up a Middle Class Task Force that can address some of these work-family balancing issues from a public policy standpoint. I agree with her that this sounds very promising, especially if they can successfully reframe the problems of working parents "not as women's issues" but as "issues of middle class economic security" as described in the article. Let's hope that this Task Force succeeds.