Not all work/life balance issues are equal

May 15, 2012

There are differences in importance within the scientific career arcs, for different work/life balance issues. And yes, the reason most presentations sponsored by your local post-doc association and/or academic society focus on child-bearing and child-rearing issues is because they are deemed most important.

So while you are feeling miffed at “yet another one focused on the family” try to keep your shit together.

Is it that you are genuinely unable to get the info you need from these or another source? Or is it that you are sitting there fuming about your *perception* that the world finds your issues unimportant or is “telling you” to reproduce? Because some of that is on you and you need to deal.

Can you really not generalize the points being made for your own situation? Elder care, spouse with disability, self with disability… sure, there are differences but there are also a lot of parallels. So take the baby-focused stuff and adjust it for your situation. Interpret!

Or is it that the world does not accept your issue of “balance” as being important?

“I can’t go to that meeting, I have my first Ironman that weekend!”

or perhaps,

“My pitbull needs walkies three times a day so I’ll be missing for two hours at lunchtime”

yeah, good luck with that.

UPDATE: posts from microdro and BabyAttachMode. The latter reminded me that I failed to link to this trigger for the day’s discussion. In it one Clara B. Jones (@cbjones1943) opines:

It is my personal opinion that the major disadvantage for females in
research science careers concerns how to arrange UNDIVIDED, UNINTERRUPTED,
FOCUSED TIME…sometimes, for protracted &/or unpredictable periods.
10. My own “solution” was to surrender custody of my children; however, I
am not recommending this choice to anyone else and know, from personal
experience, that this decision is one that most females are averse to
thinking about.

you know, in case you think *I* make outrageous statements or anything…..

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No Responses Yet to “Not all work/life balance issues are equal”

  1. Meghan Says:

    I agree. I think maybe my tweets were making you think I didn’t agree with you; sorry if I was being unclear. My frustration was aimed at workshops for female postdocs, which I found often ended up focusing on two body issues to the exclusion of everything else.

    Like

  2. Dr24Hours Says:

    Wow, DM, this feels like a really unnecessarily pissy and personal swipe at some people. People get to decide for themselves what’s important. If you allow time off for childbearing/rearing, but not a similar amount for non-child related personal endeavors for the childless, then you’re a bigot.

    Like

  3. Balcony section Says:

    “If you allow time off for childbearing/rearing, but not a similar amount for non-child related personal endeavors for the childless, then you’re a bigot.”

    “My pitbull needs walkies three times a day so I’ll be missing for two hours at lunchtime”

    *Makes popcorn, pulls up chair*

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  4. Drugmonkey Says:

    How is it “bigoted” to draw distinctions about what are acceptable and unacceptable reasons for missing work obligations?

    Like

  5. Dr24hours Says:

    Nah, balcony, you read it wrong. Nobody gets 2 hours off at lunch. Kids or not. And I’m basically with DM about pits. They’re dangerous dogs which do not belong as pets.

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  6. Dr24hours Says:

    Easy: your biases influence your decisions, and are not shared by all. You either allow equal amounts of time off, or you allow your bias to control other people’s lives. That’s bigotry.

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  7. Dr24Hours Says:

    It comes down to this: It’s not a childless person’s fault that their colleagues made the decision to have kids. Childless people have the same rights to personal time that people with children have.

    If you expect the childless to work longer hours because they don’t have those home obligations, you’re bigoted against those without children.

    Do you pay them more, for the longer hours you expect from them? No?

    People have the right to set their own priorities. And if your practice is that some people have to work harder for you than others, then you have no business employing people.

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  8. DrugMonkey Says:

    Bigotry goes a fair piece beyond “bias”, my friend.

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  9. zb Says:

    Presumably you don’t believe that someone should get time off to vacation in Italy because someone else got time off to recover from a triple bypass (but, perhaps you do).

    Dependents, children, others, who are dependent on the worker for their care are part of the package of needs of an employee. Taking time off to have a triple bypass or to care for your child when they’ve had one is not the same as traveling to Italy, and it is reasonable for employers to treat the need differently.

    Alternatively, we could all be freelance employees paid by the hour, and, if that’s the deal one prefers in your workplace (because you think you will benefit versus sharing the risks of life with other employees), one should try to negotiate that deal. It’s a different work model, not the one we have.

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  10. becca Says:

    That’s silly. If you need 2 hours at lunch for dialysis, it’s different than wanting 2 hours off because that’s the cheapest time to go skydiving. That’s not bigotry, that’s expecting adults to use common sense to understand that needs are different from wants. There are many borderline cases where bias is an issue, but the basic idea is reasonable.

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  11. DrugMonkey Says:

    My *experience* is that some people work harder than others. It is my responsibility to get the best possible out of everyone. For their own sake and the sake of the taxpayers who pay them.

    You are either suggesting a zero tolerance, no excuses workplace (which is abhorrent) or that one should gradually circle down to the lowest common denominator to be “fair”. Since life is not fair, I reject this.

    Like

  12. zb Says:

    DM, I do think you’re being glib in presuming that someone with elder care issues should just translate the info being provided about child care issues, because different (equally important) personal needs might indeed require different solutions. Triple bypasses, pregnancy, caring for newborns, caring for disabled spouses, caring for dying relatives, all have different effects on employees and might require different solutions.

    Going to a workshop on managing pregnancy during a residency might not tell you much about about managing balance with a dying relative or a chronically ill spouse.

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  13. Dr24Hours Says:

    zb – clearly, health v. vacation are not comparable. It’s absurd to suggest they are, and I don’t believe for a moment you don’t know that. Rather, you’re trying to frame my position in an unfavorable light by presenting a ridiculous argument as if I had made it. Shame on you.

    Everyone should have the same deal: A certain amount of vacation, a certain amount of health time. Where I work, personal health and family health a mingled.

    But there’s no room for : “People with kids get 6 weeks off per year, people without get 4.” That’s plain bigotry.

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  14. Dr24Hours Says:

    Come on becca, that’s even more absurd and disingenuous than zb.

    My argument is simple: You should have the same work standards for all employess, or you should pay the ones with more stringent requirements more.

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  15. All this talk of whether children are a lifestyle choice is very interesting. But I feel it’s sidelining a bigger issue, which is the widespread and unacknowledged prejudice against those of us who suffer from morning dysphoria.

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  16. Dr24Hours Says:

    And DM, as usualy you’ve gone directly to demanding an extreme be the solution, which is its own form of absurdity. I do not need to accept either of your false extremes to assert that you have a responsibility to be fair in the workplace.

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  17. Bigotry is indeed a strong word to throw around lightly, but it is somewhat frustrating from the standpoint of a childless person that any excuse involving children seems to get a free pass while other equivalent excuses are often seen as neurotic — for example, only Ebenezer Scrooge could object to someone missing a meeting because their sick child needed attending to, but attending to a sick pet generates eye rolls.

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  18. Dr24Hours Says:

    Bias obstinately put into action regarding classes of people rather than individuals is bigotry. I didn’t make up the word.

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  19. katiesci Says:

    I agree with DM that personal time and vacation time should be the same for everyone. If that was strictly enforced that would be great. But, as a single parent, I’ve had times when I’ve had to leave work early to pick up my sick kid because there is just no one else who can step in and do it for me. Things like that are often just “let go” because people understand that shit happens and parents just have to go deal with it whether they have personal time available at the moment or not. Should it happen? In the strictest sense, no, not at all. Is that reasonable when another human being is involved? No. Most parents I know work hard to make up for these situations but not all. Where do you draw the line?

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  20. geeka Says:

    So, what about this situation: It was common in my Grad studies that those students that didn’t live in the country/state, could take the month of December to go home to visit family. I was from the city that I did my grad studies in. Did my family influence my time at work? No. Did I get the month of December off? No. It was a total shit deal.

    I don’t expect time off of work to do hobbies, unless I’m taking PTO. But I’m not exactly comfortable for those with children working from home more than I’m allowed to. If the plumber has to come at 10, it’s easy for me to work at home because I’m just allowing him in the house, I kind of question how easy it is to work at home because your kid is off from school.

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  21. Isabel Says:

    If parents have to miss time due to a sick child, why can’t they make up the time later? Are you suggesting that workers who are parents be treated differently with less hours or more flexible schedules (beyond a reasonable maternity/paternity leave)? Then it does sound like bigotry. Having children is not comparable to unfortunate events like needing a triple bypass or finding oneself suddenly responsible for elder care. It is something that people choose to do, and that gives them a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction.

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  22. drugmonkey Says:

    Bias obstinately put into action regarding classes of people rather than individuals is bigotry. I didn’t make up the word.

    No, you misapplied the word. by your own definition.

    somewhat frustrating from the standpoint of a childless person that any excuse involving children seems to get a free pass

    likewise it is frustrating to the efficient, effective mother that the dudes who hang around the lab for 16 hrs a day, going to coffee, downloading hilarious youtube videos and commenting on ComraddePhysioProffe are seen as being “more serious” simply because they are constantly present.

    you’ve gone directly to demanding an extreme be the solution

    No, I have not.

    the widespread and unacknowledged prejudice against those of us who suffer from morning dysphoria.

    That’s why the Good Lord invented coffee. Sack uppe!

    You should have the same work standards for all employess, or you should pay the ones with more stringent requirements more.

    you fail to address the point I already made on this. simply re-stating your position fails to advance the discussion.

    Going to a workshop on managing pregnancy during a residency might not tell you much about about managing balance with a dying relative or a chronically ill spouse.

    I don’t see how any of these things do much except give you tools on how to seek the accommodations that work for you, your science, your particular situation within the institutional context. They cannot be that specific. So basically it is about negotiating with a supervisor and/or HR. That tends to generalize. Also, the personal tips, re: time management, etc, generalize. As do, for the most part, the minimal accommodations that are made available in, say, the NIH grant game. E.g., there’s this “re-entry” thing which could help out…but you have to be formally un-employed for it to be relevant. the info helps you to make your choices but it is not specific to the reason for making those choices.

    because different (equally important) personal needs might indeed require different solutions.

    my point was relevant to a bit of whinging on the Twitts that I was having a hard time getting into focus. it was the “what about meee? what about meeee???” in the context of work/life balance presentations that seemingly only (and this is bullshit IME, despite the relative dominance) talked about child issues. Yes I understand that one size does not fit all but I also think people need to consider carefully the degree to which they can expect custom tailored personal service* in such venues.

    If you need 2 hours at lunch for dialysis, it’s different than wanting 2 hours off because that’s the cheapest time to go skydiving. That’s not bigotry, that’s expecting adults to use common sense to understand that needs are different from wants.

    this.

    the basic idea is reasonable.

    becca just agreed with me. bookmark that comment link, folks.

    believe that someone should get time off to vacation in Italy because someone else got time off to recover from a triple bypass

    This is, in fact, exactly what Dr24Hours is saying, whether he wishes to poooh-pooh it as “absurd” or not.

    Childless people have the same rights to personal time that people with children have.

    People with children do not have “personal time”.

    a really unnecessarily pissy and personal swipe at some people

    moi? never!

    I think maybe my tweets were making you think I didn’t agree with you

    Twitter sucks for interesting discussions which is why I frequently take it to the blog.

    *and for any of you who are Millenials, I’m looking right squaar at you.

    Like

  23. Dr24Hours Says:

    Well, obviously, we’re done here. You are celarly capable of understanding my position, so I presume you simply don’t want to. That’s fine. And the fact that you’d willfully misrepresent it is sadly unsurprising.

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  24. Hermitage Says:

    Since parents constantly extoll the virtues of having children — and how they have transformed into selfless individuals who have reached a level of happiness nirvana that my withered uterus will never comprehend — I should be allowed to take an equivalent amount of time off to go skydiving while simultaneously feeding the poor. So I can try to keep up with the better human beings parents have become. /troll

    I’m glad I work in a department/culture where it is acceptable to miss a meeting for take care of kids AND to prepare for a triathlon. I will never work somewhere were my commitments are ‘less equal’ because I choose not to have/adopt/clone children. The point of these workshops SHOULD be ‘everyone deserves to have a life’, but instead they always seem to devolve into ‘everyone deserves to have a baby’.

    Like

  25. Jim Thomerson Says:

    One of the virtues of being a professor in the old days was being in control of large portions of your time.

    When I became department chair, my professional staff was unionized. I backdoored a copy of the union contract and read it. First staff meeting (all female staff) I was immediately asked about compensatory time. I pointed out, which I think they did not know, score one for me ;-), that their union contract forbids comp time. I then said my concern was that the department function in a timely and efficient manner in support of the work of the faculty and students. So long as that happens, I am happy. If you need to take off early or something, just keep that in mind. If, when I come in on Sunday, I find you at your computer, I will assume you are doing personal stuff, even if you give me a document to sign. We had no problems.

    Like

  26. leigh Says:

    likewise it is frustrating to the efficient, effective mother that the dudes who hang around the lab for 16 hrs a day, going to coffee, downloading hilarious youtube videos and commenting on ComraddePhysioProffe are seen as being “more serious” simply because they are constantly present.

    this. +1×10^eleventy

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  27. drugmonkey Says:

    And the fact that you’d willfully misrepresent it is sadly unsurprising.

    Dude, it’s you that are misrepresenting your position by not taking it down all the way in the implications. Common failing, but still wrong. Luckily, that’s why I’m here.

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  28. How is it any different for a parent to miss a meeting to take their kidde to a doctor appointment because the nanny didn’t show up today than it is for me to miss a meeting to take my Bentley in for a tune-up because my chauffeur didn’t show up today?

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  29. Dr24Hours Says:

    As I said: you try to force extremes. I do not need to accept your false extreme of my position. It’s mendacious of you, and you know it.

    Like

  30. drugmonkey Says:

    I do not need to accept your false extreme of my position.

    I do not need to accept the false moderation of your position.

    How is it any different

    because kids are not a lifestyle choice like a Bentley. this is not me talking, this is society talking. this puts the onus on you to make your special pleading for your wax job or whatever.

    also, the tuneup can wait.

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  31. leigh Says:

    oh, and i should point out that i’ve been frustrated by how the “efficiency/assbusting and go the fuck home/fewer hours put in” approach is viewed as somehow less committed than the “hang out in the workplace and sometimes get some work done between socializing/spend your entire life at work” approach, WELL before any pregnancy or family issues made an appearance in my day to day.

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  32. drugmonkey Says:

    which, not coincidently leigh, is why academics endlessly expand the personal shit they do during the workday- including going for 2 hr bike rides or wtfever. because they *can*, first of all, and because it looks better to sneak in your online shopping and your run during the day so that you are “in the lab” for 16 hrs.

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  33. miko Says:

    WAIT! We are pretty much all scientists here. Do you really judge people by how much time they spend in the lab or whether they take off in the afternoon for a sick child / frisbee golf game? If you do, you’re fucking moron, because the correlation between lab time (above a basic threshold) with productivity is weak as shit (for the reasons dm cited). Living in the lab just means you’re a loser, and you probably really, really suck at experimental design. Are any PIs here big enough pricks that you really care if an otherwise productive member of your lab is like “I’m taking off for the rest of the day / next week?” Or does this just matter if the person sucks at their job? If so, is the time away really the problem, or is it their suckage?

    And people with kids are narcissists who should be taxed and punished. There are way too many people. I am truly sorry if your dickhead husband sees child rearing as lady business — you have married an asshole, but that just means you made 2 bad choices instead of one. Unless you feed your child the flesh of baby boomers, you are part of the problem.

    That said, parental leave should be mandatory for both parents, but extended leaves should be available to everyone. I don’t see a difference between wanting 3 months off to spend with your own offspring (whichever parent you are), your adopted child, your pit bull puppy, or learning the ukulele. It’s your career, you have to make up for it at some point anyway.

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  34. […] now there’s a new kerfuffle about work-life balance arising on the internets, and some jacknut wants everyone to be treated […]

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  35. Lady Day Says:

    My pitbull walks me and makes time for me in her busy schedule. She is great at work/life balance.

    Like


  36. […] now there’s a new kerfuffle about work-life balance arising on the internets, and some jacknut wants everyone to be […]

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  37. drugmonkey Says:

    Do you really judge people by how much time they spend in the lab

    St Kern and Moo-Ming Poo certainly do. And they are not alone in sending those types of letters to their lab members, either.

    Or does this just matter if the person sucks at their job? If so, is the time away really the problem, or is it their suckage?

    It is not so easy as you think to determine if someone is sucky in ways that are fixable, the fault of the PI, due to obscure circumstances of which the PI is not aware, mental disorder, etc.

    people with kids are narcissists who should be taxed and punished

    they already are. believe me.

    Unless you feed your child the flesh of baby boomers, you are part of the problem.

    I resist your blatant attempt to curry favor with me!!

    Like

  38. drugmonkey Says:

    Having children is not comparable to unfortunate events like needing a triple bypass or finding oneself suddenly responsible for elder care.

    really? how do you not have a choice in whether you choose to care for the elderly or not? Which law is that now?

    Like

  39. Isabel Says:

    DM had kids for unselfish reasons. He did it for the good of society. It is a horrible burden not unlike having to undergo dialysis or watching a parent slowly waste away. He would obviously much rather be childless, and wants us to feel sorry for him and give him more time off for cleaning up vomit. Because having kids is all about vomit, stress and doctor’s appointments. Clearly, no one should have kids f they can help it!

    Like


  40. The frustrating part of this conversation is that tenured and tenure-track faculty are counting hours. Isn’t independace the number one thing that this job is supposed to offer? Everyone should be measured on productivity alone. If I get my proposals submitted and some get funded, papers get written, classes get taught, service gets done, then it should not matter if it’s done at work or at home at 2am or while drinking congac at a Swiss chalet. With the wonders of technology, you can call in or video chat meetings. If I want to take two hours to walk my dog, in this job, that should be no one else’s business. If you chose to have kids and need those two hours to take care of them, then do that. But you shouldn’t get tenure if you get significantly less work done than someone without kids. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t get an extension, but if after the extension you don’t reach the same point, then sorry. You don’t get a pass for the next 18 years because you chose to have kids. If you get sick, you should get an extension. When you recover, you come back to work, if you don’t then you go on disability. Same thing in class, I don’t care if the students attend or not. If the work gets done and they ace the exams they’ll get an A. If they can’t do the work or take the exams because they are sick, I don’t give them an A, instead I tell them to withdraw from the class.

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  41. bill Says:

    All y’all who think people with kids have made a purely selfish choice (or just a choice that shouldn’t be viewed differently from “my pitbull needs a fresh toddler’s face to eat”) — are you part of the voluntary human extinction movement?

    I don’t have kids and won’t ever have kids and on my bad days pretty much agree with VHEMT, but I still concede that society has a clear interest in people continuing to have children. Given that interest, it makes sense to afford child rearing privileges that don’t attach to pit bull walking.

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  42. Isabel Says:

    “how do you not have a choice in whether you choose to care for the elderly or not? ”

    Your parent is sick or showing signs of dementia or frailty, maybe took a fall, and you “decide” whether to deal with the situation or not?

    Well I guess the same holds for kids, right? After all there are babysitting agencies you can call if your babysitter doesn’t show up. After picking up your sick kid, you can head right back to work.

    Like

  43. Dr24Hours Says:

    I get to decide what my argument is. Not you. You are free to argue with yourself about your imaginary position you’ve assigned to the imaginary version of me in your head.

    But it bears no relation to my actual argument. Have fun masturbating.

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  44. miko Says:

    “It is not so easy as you think to determine if someone is sucky in ways that are fixable, the fault of the PI, due to obscure circumstances of which the PI is not aware, mental disorder, etc.”

    Right, trainees are so rare and precious, let’s spend a lot of effort on the problem kids.

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  45. You are free to argue with yourself about your imaginary position you’ve assigned to the imaginary version of me in your head.

    FINALLY!!!! Someone understands this fucken blogge!!!!!

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  46. drugmonkey Says:

    Your parent is sick or showing signs of dementia or frailty, maybe took a fall, and you “decide” whether to deal with the situation or not?

    Yep. So far as I am aware, the legal responsibility is zero whereas this is not true for a person who decides to stop caring for their minor child. For that you have to go to the effort of declaring them incorrigible. ( Which I’m planning to do, don’t get me wrong, but that’s just to make college affordable. )

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  47. Pissed Says:

    What never fails to disgust me is how much kid-hatred there is on the Intertubes.
    Everyone with pit-bull-walking or Bentley-polishing needs — get a fucking grip. Most people have to decide to have kids for the society to continue functioning (don’t give me there are too many people bullshit. There are too many people in regions of the world where they cannot be sustained, not the US.) You don’t want to have kids, fine. But having kids is actually not just a personal decision but one that benefits society, including the douches who hate kids.

    Btw, I place all demands where you need to care for another living being (kid, parent, pet) to be a gazzilion times more important than anything else. Skydiving and Ironman can wait. No, not all out-of-work activities are made equal.

    Sheesh.

    Like

  48. Lady Day Says:

    My pitbull drives a Bentley. I polish it for her.

    Like

  49. becca Says:

    Dr24hours- I get your fairness argument. Really. I just think any standard you make for having equivalent standards (hours worked? papers published? general lab tasks completed?) is unfair to somebody (don’t believe me? Sit on a faculty committee where they decide how to partition credit for teaching loads and what amount of research/service gets a release…and those people all think they have the same job description). Given that reality, a philsophy that approaches ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’ can work better, as long as the ability levels are high enough that there’s some slack in the system.

    Hermitage- the next time you go soup kitchen skydiving, I will totally go with you. I will FIND childcare coverage for that.

    miko- actually, we’ve got plenty of resources for 9 billion people (projected world population in 2050), if the meat eaters would just go veggie and we got serious about sustainable agriculture. People in Western countries having a kid or two is not the driver for the problem, nor a good lever to push on to solve it.

    Like

  50. NatC Says:

    For some context, the ‘whining’ DM was referring to was specific to seminars and at post-foc and grad student women promoted as “how to have work-life balance” and then focused on babies (even to a crowd of single, childless women).

    To be clear, I am all for discussions of babies, & all support possible for balancing family with a career in science. I’ve learned a lot -and yes, generalized- from the discussions. I’m also for parents/carers who need flexibility for illness/vacations/snow days/cabos San pukas.
    Similarly for illness. Somethings have to happen, and I personally don’t feel that I need similar packets of time off to even it out.

    Where i have some frustration is when babies is the only aspect of “life” that’s seen as reasonable to have outside of life. There is a problem when those of us who are childless are told that we don’t really have a life. There are enough #k3rns and #Poos and pressure in science that discussions about how to have ANY life outside science is valuable too. Discussions about how to manage and plan protected pockets of time OUTSIDE work to do whatever – walk the bulldog, play music, train for a triathlon, watch baseball, play with your kids or nieces/nephews ir travel – would be extremely valuable work/life balance discussions to have early in this sometimes crazy career.

    Like

  51. drugmonkey Says:

    NatC-
    this implies that all of these work/life sessions assume, but for children, that of course you will be in the lab 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Is this really the case?

    I don’t see that. I don’t see any K3rn3d-ness in those…but I never attended all that many of them either.

    in fact “I finally had to figure out how to take time for myself” and “hire someone to do the cleaning*” are the kinds of statements I have heard made.

    Now, it may be the case that the postdocs are sitting there thinking “yeah, that’s well and good PIs but that doesn’t work for me and my demanding lab environment”….but unhelpful advice is different from zero advice.

    *yes, this is faculty level advice

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  52. Btw, I place all demands where you need to care for another living being (kid, parent, pet) to be a gazzilion times more important than anything else.

    You obviously haven’t seen how sweet my ride is.

    Like

  53. Drugmonkey Says:

    I can’t believe you left PhysioCatte hanging like that PP. hairball in the loafers time.

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  54. Dave Says:

    Frisbee golf is definitely worth an afternoon off and is clearly more masculine than owning a Bentley.

    Like

  55. miko Says:

    Pissed, you’re so moral and altruistic that I assume you adopted one of the many kids whose parents didn’t want them or couldn’t keep them rather than half-cloning your own beloved self.

    Like

  56. miko Says:

    yes, becca, there are resources for many more people if the rich part of the world suddenly radically changes its lifestyle and energy consumption and china and india stop increasing theirs. sounds like a plan.

    i know all kinds of people who count the carbon footprint of every time they fart but don’t blink at popping out a few more people.

    and let’s face it, 90% of kids and 95% of adults are pretty much a drag.

    Like

  57. Emmers Says:

    I love how dismissive this is of the needs of animals, too. I mean, I really think people shouldn’t have pets if they can’t give them sufficient attention…but I also think that taking off 2 hours at lunchtime is fine, AS LONG AS YOU THEN MAKE IT UP LATER IN THE EVENING. (I put that last part in shouty-caps because people tend to miss it, for some reason.)

    Like

  58. Emmers Says:

    Also, as a night owl, my favorite thing is to listen to people piss and moan about how lazy I am for coming in to work at 9:30…and then when 3 PM rolls around, they’re like “Welp, time for a margarita and a nap! See ya!”

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  59. Emmers Says:

    100000% agree (agreement overload) with the statement “Kids are not a lifestyle choice.” It drives me nuts when people act like having kids is the exception.

    I don’t think non-spawners should be treated badly or made to work harder, but pretending like kids is a Totally Free Choice Unconstrained By Emotion Or Biology is bullshit.

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  60. Pissed Says:

    Pissed, you’re so moral and altruistic that I assume you adopted one of the many kids whose parents didn’t want them or couldn’t keep them rather than half-cloning your own beloved self.

    Aaaah, another favorite of mine — people who think that wanting to have biological children is selfish. Understanding why this standpoint is totally misguided (I had a much less flattering word there initially) requires only a rudimentary understanding of biology and evolution.

    Most people who adopt either already have biological kids or would have loved to have biological kids. And adopting children does not make someone a saint. It makes them a parent.

    Like

  61. Drugmonkey Says:

    I don’t think the sentiments are necessarily misguided when it comes to some of the pricier and extreme lengths the fertility challenged go to, Pissed. Definitely a legit point of view. To just brush it off as evolutionary imperative is a bit facile don’t you think?

    Wrt developed/undeveloped world birth rates…we’re an immigrant nation. We USians, of all highly developed countries, have no excuse talking some line about how we don’t need to do our part on world population issues…

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  62. miko Says:

    Pissed: evolution + is/ought confusion = lazy thinking about human behavior.

    we are fat and diabetic because of evolutionary imperatives too, does that make our food habits off the table for discussion as a public health issue?

    also, what DM said.

    Like

  63. Drugmonkey Says:

    I do agree with Pissed that adopting parents are not particularly virtuous. I mean, it is definitely a GoodThing. And on the balance I’ll give out a few more brownie points over self-replication. But there are so many ways to be a better/worse parent and a better/worse member of the community as time goes on that it overwhelms the birth origin credit.

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  64. […] yesterday's discussion, I finally got a partial glimpse of the issue when NatC observed: Discussions about how to manage and plan protected pockets of time OUTSIDE work to do whatever – […]

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  65. becca Says:

    It’s also worth noting that when you’re lecturing people on the internet about their reproductive choices, you usually don’t know who was adopted into a household and always made to feel ‘less than’ their siblings because of it. Just like adult kids of alcoholics may build a fence around the wall regarding caution with drinking, kids adopted into families where it didn’t go smoothly may not be anxious to repeat that. #AdoptionIsn’tForEveryone

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  66. anonyPit Says:

    Alls I can say is, in my experience the ones taking long lunches and breaks to walk their dogs aren’t the pit owners but the puggle owners. Down with puggles!

    Re adoption v fertility treatments….yes, but adoption isn’t a cheap picnic of a way to get a kid, either. Particularly if you, for example, are moving from state to state (states control adoption differently and you have to get home study etc done within you state and THEN start the adoption process) due to annoying things like NIH training requirements.

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  67. drugmonkey Says:

    kids adopted into families where it didn’t go smoothly may not be anxious to repeat that.

    That’s kind of an interesting hook….I wonder if there are data on the choice to adopt/self-replicate for adoptees and for siblings of adoptees who are the self-replicates of the adopting parents.

    and then if that would be a population large enough to divide by those adoptees who felt lesser and those that did not….

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  68. miko Says:

    So… I’ll note that I don’t much care about anyone’s reproductive choices, I just refuse to automatically admire the choice to have kids (or not), but do admire the choice to adopt. I was responding to the moralizing of someone making the stupid claim that they are performing the noble function of continuing our society by having kids. Staggeringly, the claim that “I am reproducing for the good of us all” was followed by some half baked bullshit about evolution, which gave me cognitive dissonance whiplash.

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  69. Pissed Says:

    I’ll note that I don’t much care about anyone’s reproductive choice

    Hardly true, given your comments above.

    Sorry to have caused you “cognitive dissonance whiplash”. What a gentle, easily confused mind yours must be (or you are being thick on purpose). Here, let me spell it out for you.

    Most people want to have biological kids, because yes it’s an evolutionary imperative at the level of an individual. Just because you don’t “admire the choice to have kids” doesn’t make these people selfish.

    Also most humans presently happen to live in large, complex societies, with many of its functions relying on a steady influx of young people who are able to work. That’s where producing children goes beyond the individual evolutionary imperative and benefits the society as a whole, including misanthropic douches like yourself (“… let’s face it, 90% of kids and 95% of adults are pretty much a drag”).

    Still feeling dissonant?

    Like

  70. Isabel Says:

    The idea that people reproduce (or adopt) for anyone other than themselves is hilarious! As is the idea that kids are a great burden, and parents are to be admired for selflessly dealing with tantrums and diapers and cleaning up all that vomit day in and day out. Kids give back in spades. They are adorable, hilarious, warm, cuddly and incredibly loving. Even as a babysitter I was constantly inundated with hugs, kisses and i-love-yous. Not bad at the end of a stressful day! Then there’s the relaxing bedtime rituals, and then they sleep at least 10 hours a night. Note all the mom and dad bloggers who blog constantly, enjoy netflix, on-line shoe shopping, etc.

    The problem with these discussions, and I am happy to see that the focus seems to be moving in a better direction, is that work-life balance is seen as primarily an issue for parents, and especially an issue for women who are parents. The rest of us apparently need no time to shop, cook, garden, exercise, relax, unwind, go to doctors or dentists, entertain out-of-town visitors, enjoy friends and family, do housework, etc. Nope, being childless, we are obviously free to be in the lab 16 hours a day, unless we have some wasteful expensive silly hobbies.

    It’s as if some people have a kid, and then over time, perhaps during periods of stress over the 24/7 responsibility when they fantasize about not having that responsibility, they begin to idealize their former life until in their heads single people have no responsibilities at all, like they are all 20-year-olds living in a dorm blissfully surviving on pizza and beer and mooching off their parents.

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  71. miko Says:

    Pissed, just because I said that people with kids are narcissists who should be taxed and punished doesn’t mean I care. How much time have you spent on this blog? And the fact — or semantic requirement — that societies need people doesn’t mean they have to be people that came out of your or your partner’s butt. And as DM pointed out for the case of the US, we are a nation of immigrants — we can have as many people as we want. So your desire to reproduce does fuck all for anyone else. There is no more purely self-serving act than reproducing — it’s not a value judgement, it’s just biology. And no evolutionary-based impulse for reproduction functions for the good of any group, from microbes to nematodes to you.

    Like

  72. DJMH Says:

    Even as a babysitter I was constantly inundated with hugs, kisses and i-love-yous. Not bad at the end of a stressful day! Then there’s the relaxing bedtime rituals, and then they sleep at least 10 hours a night.

    Thanks for the best laugh I have had all day, Izzie.

    Like

  73. Anon Says:

    @becca: “‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs'”

    You do understand that communism has been proven an utter failure, don’t you?

    Like

  74. Isabel Says:

    “Thanks for the best laugh I have had all day, Izzie.”

    I guess you hate spending time with your kids. Family life got you down? Or maybe you’re kid is an exception, but do you really think you’d be happier if they weren’t around? Most kids do sleep much longer than adults. I think I am right in most cases. It just gets so tiring hearing about vomit constantly, or changing diapers, as if people were telling war stories and they (parents) are freaking heroes.

    “Izzie.”

    Asshole.

    Like

  75. Isabel Says:

    “Your” kid.

    “I think I am right in most cases. ”

    I mean, in most kids’ cases.

    I’ve been in the hot sun all day.

    And you are still an ass. Show some respect.

    Like

  76. becca Says:

    Anon- you do understand that for less than say 60 people it works perfectly fine, right? At least when those people came together intentionally and are motivated to make it work. Which is more analogous to a lab group than say, the country of China.

    Look, not all labs have enough slack to pull off that kind of philosophy. If you’re a new TT prof at a very cut-throat school that routinely denies tenure for lack of GLAMOR, you are not going to be as well *able* to handle your sole postdoc taking 6 months maternity or sick leave as well as Old Prof Greybeard with tenure, an HHMI position, and money out the yang yang. It’s a matter of how much slack is in the system… which can manifest in terms of whether you can hire out a tech to cover the bench work, for example.
    But, for the typical lab where things are somewhere in between those extremes, any one person’s non-frantic pace is not going to sink the ship. If you’ve already got people who will have very different outputs on any given measure of productivity (e.g. for some labs you don’t measure a tech’s performance solely by papers published; but you also wouldn’t count face time alone for postdocs), I’d say the ideal is to get everyone producing (over the long haul) at a fairly high percent of their personal max output without driving them crazy. It really does help that a huge number of people in academia are *happier* if they are productive. And vice versa.

    Like

  77. drugmonkey Says:

    Where has actual communism been tried? The Animal Farm version doesn’t count.

    Like


  78. […] results, inspired by assorted posts on WLB on other blogs this week (for example, here and here).Here’s how it started, this image-research: Every once in a while, I encounter an image that […]

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  79. Isabel Says:

    “I’d say the ideal is to get everyone producing (over the long haul) at a fairly high percent of their personal max output without driving them crazy. It really does help that a huge number of people in academia are *happier* if they are productive. And vice versa.”

    Generous maternity and paternity leave should be a given; and demanding long hours (except occasionally) in lab, keeping track of peoples’ hours and their comings and goings*, and demanding particular hours (“in by 8 am”) when flexible hours would do just as well are all seriously abusive practices. Some of these biomed labs sound like prisons. As long as people overlap enough to interact regularly, and show up and participate in meetings and seminars there should be no issue.

    *one exception might be for a new undergrad who has no work experience, and is also being actively trained by people who need to arrange their own schedules. You might want to start them off at least on a regular, supervised schedule. But it is weird for grad students and postdocs. What will happen if you ignore the pressure and just leave when you want, but you get your work done and publish?

    Like

  80. drugmonkey Says:

    Isabel-

    It is also that case that some (many?) junior scientists abuse the hell out of less-than-stringent management behavior from PIs. How should the PI react to such? Is there any responsibility to set a culture in which 40 hrs of actual work are being put in?

    Like

  81. Isabel Says:

    I think asking people to keep track of their hours and provide a copy to the PI is reasonable, for actual RA work.

    Why would people not want to get their work done, publications, etc? Are you talking about hired techs specifically? But you say “junior scientists” which I take to mean grad students and post docs. For their own PhD work (but maybe grads don’t do this in biomed) there are annual meetings, and gradual removal of support after so many years. for a post doc there are stated goals and a time-line, and you could meet with them if these aren’t being met.

    I mean if a postdoc is a slacker, won’t they have trouble getting new jobs without a good recommendation and pubs? Most healthy, intelligent people are pretty motivated, as Becca points out.

    Like

  82. drugmonkey Says:

    They are not just there to conveniently further their own careers Isabel. My grants are paying them to make progress on a topic. I am derelict in my duties if I let someone fuck around for two years before threatening to “gradually” (wtf?) remove support.

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  83. Why would people not want to get their work done, publications, etc?

    Have you ever heard of this concept called “laziness”?

    Like

  84. Mercury Says:

    Wow! No, as a person who has a seriously difficult life at work or otherwise, who did not in any way choose any of this, I really do not find all the constant baby talk at work-life balance events applicable to my situation or a simple matter of generalization. Are you seriously comparing having a few kids to having disabilities?? Wow.

    Like


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