Monday, April 23, 2012

Gender Politics

I would, ideally, like to keep politics out of this blog. However, given that this is an election year, politics seems to be butting its way into everything, so here goes.
The CSWA works hard to advocate for women in science. One issue that comes up over and over again is the problem of balancing career and family -- an issue for any working mother, really. A key to that balance is the ability to plan when and how many children to have -- something that many of us, like myself, take for granted.
So when a Republican-controlled House Committee convenes an all-male panel to discuss coverage for birth control, it's hard not to take it a little personally. It's bad enough that dependent care coverage is a real issue for many young astronomers, particularly grad students and postdocs, but to not even have coverage for birth control?
More recently was the whole kerfuffle between Ann Romney and Hilary Rosen about whether or not Romney "has actually never worked a day in her life." Given that Rosen was speaking specifically about women in the paid workforce, Romney's response that raising children was "work" sounded to me a lot like "gravity is only a theory."
Yes, raising children is a lot of work. So is being a scientist. Force times distance is also work. At any rate, why is it that stay-at-home mom are lavished with praise and put on pedestals, while working moms are frowned at? And, by the way, where is dad in all this?
It's great to be talking about getting more girls interested in science and math, since they are certainly smart enough. But girls are also smart enough to see the barriers ahead. If they can see that they won't be able to raise families on their own terms, no wonder they drop out.