Monday, June 14, 2010

Step up to the plate DrugMonkey

You asked why you were brought into the conversation? Because you've said you are an ally. You have stated on your blog that you believe that gender equality in science is a good thing. Yet you rarely talk about some of the balancing issues or the parental issues. I have the link up that shows you think its important. Yet outside of that post originally done 2 years ago, you don't talk about fatherhood or balancing fatherhood and partnerhood with science.

Mr. SM stresses about child care, he stresses about balancing all his responsibilities, he stresses about making his career successful without costing him his wife/family. I am friends with male PI's who've just had kids that struggle with this. I have male grad student friends that struggle with this, but they don't always feel comfortable talking about it. The only male bloggers (that I know of) who have mentioned this stuff is PLS and PalMD. I don't think PLS does too much writing about balancing, but he does on occasion discuss the joys of daycare, sick child and travelling too much. PalMD has many posts about taking his daughter on rounds so they can spend time together and the women in his life. They make it OK to be dads, scientists and partners. This is important for everyone.

We live in a patriarchal society and until we change some of the "normative" ideals we will not achieve gender equity. You once wrote a post on shifting the window in regards to politics of extreme rightwingnutism. I can't find the link, but essentially it was how the extreme right is so extreme that it shifts what is palatable or acceptable to the right. If you blogged regularly about balancing your non-academic responsibilities or your kids( aka Dr.Freeride, Dr.Isis, DrdrA), you're reframing the problem not as a women in science issue but as a person in science.

Jim Austin is partly correct when he's says that alot of women have the majority of household responsibilities, but its not always true and I'm not sure its the majority of the time either. If I was to list out the household chores, I would be forced to admit that Mr.SM does more of them, they're just not critical to day to day life. I like to bug Mr.SM that he'd fall apart if I left because I cook and do the grocery shopping. We share the kid stuff and the dogs stuff. If he left I may have food, but I'd have no clean dishes, no clean laundry, a dirty house and a overgrown yard. This arrangement works for us, as it does for most working couples. Yet what he does it not seen a the normal thing an equal partner does. I'm supposed to be grateful that he pulls his own weight. I"m supposed to be happy, I'm so lucky. WTF? Partly this is because of the traditional culture I'm part of, but its also how science and society kinda works.

I left my original PhDlab for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reason was the inherent belief that kids were someone that your partner dealt with. When my PI was struggling to balance the needs of his scientist wife and his job, he was seen as being "whipped" and she was unreasonably selfish. When he had to write a grant with his kid on his lap, "where the fuck was his wife" was openly said.

You need to write about balancing your life with your science as you said yourself the The father/PI who is seriously concerned about gender equity in science will go out of his way to exhibit his status.

If the d00ds hear from d00ds, they're more likely to think about it. You're not going to change my inlaws or my parents, but you can shift the way the issue is viewed.

76 comments:

DrugMonkey said...

It is not accurate that I "say that I am an ally". I make no such claim nor am I particularly keen on describing myself as a "feminist". I say what makes sense to me and I take the actions that result from my various understandings of the right thing to do. claiming the ally or feminist label seems to me to be hollow chest puffery, however.

Becca said...

DrugMonkey- are you sure it doesn't just seem to be signing up for a set of responsibilities you might not be able to fully anticipate?

Janet D. Stemwedel said...

signing up for a set of responsibilities you might not be able to fully anticipate?

What, like getting partnered, or becoming a PI, or having kids?

To be fair, though, talking about some of this stuff on blog can be really hard when you feel like your own house is not in order (sometimes quite literally). There needs to be a balance between baring all and sitting out the conversation altogether.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with DM, regarding men who like to say that they are feminists, in that actions speak louder than words. It always makes me cringe a little when a man describes himself as a feminist (for precisely the same reason you give). However, as a woman, I will openly refer to some of the men in my life as feminists, after I've had a chance to know them. Perhaps, DM, you may act like a feminist, but not like to talk about it? Or maybe not.

@ ScientistMother: It *is* sad to have to say that one is "lucky" to have a husband who will split the chores. But, that statement, in and of itself, highlights the reality on the ground.

-LadyDay

DrugMonkey said...

Perhaps, DM, you may act like a feminist, but not like to talk about it? Or maybe not.

There is the additional problem that if you label yourself x, y or z there is this seeming additional burden to get it right. I.e., to conform to what someone else considers to be qualifications for the label. Of course, human beliefs and actions do not come in neat categories.

It is not impossible, and indeed quite likely, that I have some attitudes and/or beliefs that are quite offensive to those who have a certain concept of "feminism". So why set oneself up for charges of hypocrisy or whatnot by adopting some label? I'll pass.

There needs to be a balance between baring all and sitting out the conversation altogether.

Not really. I don't see where bloggers have any obligation to jump into topics if they don't want to. Furthermore, a blog persona is a constructed persona. There is no obligation that it hew closely to one's IRL persona.

Anonymous said...

Feeling fighty today, ScientistMother?

Becca said...

"It is not impossible, and indeed quite likely, that I have some attitudes and/or beliefs that are quite offensive to those who have a certain concept of "feminism"."
feministhulk say: "HULK STRIVE TO RESPECT RIGHT TO SELF-IDENTIFY, BUT HULK COMPASSION STRAIN AND BREAK UNDER WEIGHT OF SARAH PALIN’S BULLSHIT."
As long as you're not in the Palin level of antifeminist hypocrisy, whatever pushback you'd get would likely represent a much lower level of conflict than your regular 'legalize eet, mon' baiting posts. That said, you know my position on labels that do not fit (rejecting labels is fine, but it's usually more entertaining to just create ever more labels, preferably using entertaining linguistic maneuvers).

"I don't see where bloggers have any obligation to jump into topics if they don't want to. "
Specific topics? Of course not. But the decisions by certain *types* of bloggers *not* to jump into certain *types* of topics can contribute to the ghettoization of such topics. But you're not hopelessly oblivious, so you know that.
More specifically, while I respect your right to draw your privacy lines where you will, I've also noted the type of semi-sentimental fatherhood posts you retweet. So I'll just take this opportunity to remind you that if you're don't ever find yourself stepping outside your comfort zone as a writer, it may well be time to try something different.

ScientistMother said...

DM - Do you believe in the equality of men and women? If so, that makes you a feminist whether you like it or not. If you don't believe in equality take this as an opportunity to admit it. I suspect, like Becca, that you don't want the responsibility that come with openly admitting to being an ally / feminist.

Janet - Welcome to the blog. No, not the personal responsibility, the public responsibility of calling people out on the carpet for sexism. For practicing what you preach. I started reading science blogs about 2 years ago. DM was one of the first ones I started reading. In the post I linked to, he talks about the need of males scientist to be open about fatherhood and importance of leading by example. Hell he even gives examples of how to do those things. Yet he doesn't really explore those challenges. All I'm saying is talk about it the challenges for the same reason he says talk about being dads. The power of example.

Prof-like Substance said...

I think in any relationship there needs to be flexibility in the relative workloads of partners so that the ebb and flow of each's "at work" work can change with the "at home" work. We all struggle with this to some degree and it doesn't always work perfectly. Some are in a situation for their partners to take up more slack than others.

ScientistMother said...

LadyBug - welcome to the blog. Yes the fact that people say I"m lucky pisses the shit out of me. Same as when I am asked in Mr.SM is babysitting. The reality won't change, until we have examples of men doing it regularly.

Janet - back to you, I don't think anyone has their house in order. Thats the point. The female bloggers talk about it, the men don't. Which is why the whole life/balance is seen as a women's issue. Its not. I'm calling out DM, because he himself as posted on the power of example when it comes to fatherhood.

DM - the decision not to jump into the conversation perpetuates the idea that its women's issue.

Shout out to PLS for blogging how he balances things.

ScientistMother said...

PLS - each relationship is different. You've talked about Ms.PLS first being at home, now working, the changes that was going to cause. the stress of childcare. You felt those issues as much as Ms.PLS did. I appreciate those posts and I think more men need to be open about these things.

DrdrA has talked about how her and MrdrA deal as a 2 academic household as does Janus Prof. The more example of how diff people do it, the more options we have to figure out (a) system that works (b) its not up the me, the female, to figure it out.

FrauTech said...

Interesting post ScientistMother...

...I agree the more you see the Men Folk willing to be open and talk about this sort of thing is what changes the culture. One of the managers where I work admonished one of his employees for taking a WEEK off work for the birth of his first child, saying he had been back at work the next day. So okay, we're nowhere near "paternal leave" here at MegaCorp (or even maternity for the most part, kiss of death to most women who take it). But you do see a difference when the next generation is willing to take a few weeks off for their baby. And maybe some other guy who wants to take a few months off won't be so afraid to because he'll know somebody else did it. And maybe when the guys start talking about the difficulty of raising their kids and getting stuff done it won't make offspring the forbidden fruit, or won't make it seem like only women with children should be punished in their careers when hey, dudes have kids too. I don't know what this means for any kind of obligation for DM, but I'm certain he struggles with these issues himself, and his choosing to write about them would certainly mean something to a lot of people. But then I guess that's his choice, and the next set of managers here might decide they'd rather be back at work the next day.

ScientistMother said...

Frautech - Its all about the power of example. Which DM has talked about. He said

It is the power of the example. There were several areas in which I picked up either positive ("gee, that seems useful") or negative ("not gonna go there") PI patterns from this person. One of the former was this guy's role as father and scientist. Whenever one had to find this PI, if he wasn't around because of father duties his whole lab knew about it. "Oh, he's at Opening Day." or "He had a sick kid today, he'll be back later". or "He's taking his kid to [SportingActivityX]". This guy has a perfectly viable career with nice pubs, great NIH grant support, always seems to have at least 4-5 postdocs and a similar number of techs, serves study sections, organizes symposia, etc. In short, he's well respected and does not appear to have paid any obvious sort of career price to date. This had a great impact on YHN as I was transitioning both as PI and father.

The power of this example for me was basically "Screw it, if he doesn't worry about being known at work as a guy who takes his role as father seriously then I'm not going to worry about it either" . And I basically never worried about this sort of thing again. Now, I'm not going to claim that this is necessarily the smart thing to do, career-wise. The whole point here is an acknowledgment that there are people sitting in judgment of your career who do see too much parental-ness as being an indicator that you are not "serious" about science. But it is worth taking this rather minor risk for the greater good. After all, many of you have (or will have) female spouses with aspiration to scientific careers, no?


and then he continued with examples of how to set up a comfortable environment and one of his points was to talk mommy talk. Yet since then, he hasn't posted anything on that. Maybe he does IRL. I don't know. I'm just saying what he preached on the interwebs, he has not practiced on the interwebs

**emphasis is mine

DrugMonkey said...

I suspect, like Becca, that you don't want the responsibility that come with openly admitting to being an ally / feminist.

If you mean by "responsibility" making sure to express only a certain aspect of my beliefs and behaviors..yeah, guilty as charged.

Do I think men and women are equal? No. I think that men and women start with biological differences that are further shaped by extant culture. OTOH, I don't think that these sex differences are relevant to decisions in the scientific workplace, whether that be paper review, grant review, hiring or whatever might arise.

whatever pushback you'd get would likely represent a much lower level of conflict

I'm not certain how you can possibly know this, beyond your own personal reactions.


I should make it clear that I understand your arguments and even agree in the abstract. It *would* be better if out-as-men bloggers took up balance issues. Agree entirely.

Anonymous said...

@ DM: Does "equal" mean "identical," in your book? I don't think that men a identical to women. In fact, it's hard to find any person who is identical to any other person. "Equal," as I take it, means "worthy of the same rights," and that is where my definition stops.

-LadyDay

Jason said...

This is all very interesting to me, as someone who at the moment is simply trying to balance work and *dating*, let alone the complexities of married life, children, etc.

But I don't see why DrugMonkey should be called onto the carpet for having not written about topic X or Y. There's a lot of important things that should be discussed, but not everyone feels compelled or qualified to do so, for one reason or another.

That he hasn't written about these things extensively shouldn't constitute an inference into what he thinks about them, should it? (i.e. the decision not to jump into the conversation perpetuates the idea that its women's issue). Why can't it simply reflect that there are simply other things he wishes to spend his limited free time writing about?

Becca said...

"whatever pushback you'd get would likely represent a much lower level of conflict
I'm not certain how you can possibly know this, beyond your own personal reactions. "

I can't know for sure. Have you gotten a lot of stuff you couldn't handily manage* about not being feminist ally ish enough?

*Yeah, using the 'leegalize eet mon' standard of 'handily manageable conflict' may have issues. You do seem to personally thrive on some level of conflict, but maybe it is highly context-dependent and thus my comparison is inappropriate. Is it that you don't mind conflict about science/policy [even though the policy 'conflict' tends to be totes one sided- you can't be surprised by it at this stage], but feminist ally decisions would cut closer to an emotionally salient issue for you?

Summary thus far, as I understand it:
SM (and becca): "hey DM, it would be TOTES AWESOME if you blogged about something like this!"

DM: "well, it would be TOTES AWESOME if someone like me blogged about something like this! But I don't WANNA- too many ways of doin it rong."

SM (and becca): "are you sure you don't just mean you don't WANNA- is too hard?"

DM: "too hard to do it "RIGHT[tm]"

to which would say: 'if you only do things you are sure you will do right, life will be boring (Also, it makes it hard to do science)' *nudgenudgeidtynudgenudge*

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Hmmmmmm.

I can certainly see the value in having high-profile male bloggers discuss this issue.

But I think it's a bit much to tell specific individuals that they should blog about a given topic (especially when the topic concerns their kids and their private life; not everyone wants to discuss these things on blog). I've had a few emails telling me I should blog about topic X (usually creationist stupidity). I just delete those messages. If the pressure was applied in public, rather than in private, I'd be annoyed!

If someone sends me a link and says "I thought you might find this interesting" - well, that's a different matter!

Maybe a special edition of Scientiae is called for - with this as the topic and an open, well-publicised invitation for male bloggers to contribute. Voluntarily. :)

Anonymous said...

I am an Assistant professor on a terminal year contract. My wife is a health care professional with a demanding job. Thus caring for my daughter became my primary job as well as most household chores. Unfortunately my academic department saw childcare and household work as the responsibility of the spouse (either wife or husband) and not the responsibility of professor. My mentor told me that he spent so much time at the lab and office that he was a stranger to his family once he obtained tenure. He then suggested that the sabbatical offered after obtaining tenure was the proper time to reunite with family.

ScientistMother said...

I never demanded that DM jump into the conversation. He's was the example of someone who I know probably deals with these life/work balance issues, is aware of the fact hat is a concern BUT DOESN'T blog about it. He has also advocated for the importance of leading by example shall I quote his word verbatim?

here are some thoughts on what you male PIs and Professors who also happen to be dads should be doing. It is your responsibility to sent a comfortable working environment, is it not? And a real leader leads from the front, no? So step up.

Let them know you are expecting. IME the whole "I'll tell them just barely before I can't pull off the loose-labcoat anymore" thing is a big consideration for pregnant women. Unless your wife habituates your office place, your co-workers might be in the dark until you email the announcement. (Tell me you at least do that much, right?). Go ahead and leak the info at your workplace whenever your wife tells her workplace.

Be frank and open about bailing for "dad stuff". When you have to leave at 1pm to pick up a sick kid from daycare it is OK to say so to your lab or admin. Setting meetings with colleagues? Go ahead and say the reason you can't meet past 4 some day is because that is your day to take the early shift.

Talk "mommy" shop. Guess what? You don't have to avert yourself from the conversation, yes even if it is about the trials of "pumping". I mean after all your wife deals with this crap at work right? Pass her tips along. Engage. Let 'em know you agree it is stupid that the new "postdoc" offices don't have doors, nevermind locking ones (TrueStory). Recommend daycares.

Leave your screen saver set to your archive of pictures of the munchkins.


This was advice that he gave. Its akin to saying, oh yeah we should hire more women, diversity is good, but then still recommend your male beer buddy for the next job.

IRL - DM may do this, may not. I can only go by what I read on his blog.

Anonymous said...

ScientistMother demonstrates a fair bit of entitlement herself: she knows best what people should write about, calls them out when they don't, she knows exactly what people should think and how they are supposed to express their opinion in an approved fashion. And she is of course one of the blogosphere supresme judges of whether an opinion is allowed at all or not.

Not that DM needs defending, but what the hell? Leave the guy alone, and all male bloggers for that matter. No wonder no one wants to write about these things, since a whole pack of ScientistMother-like know-it-alls will jump for the kill for the slightest deviation from the approved standpoint. Who needs that kind of crap?

Comrade PhysioProf said...

You need to write about...

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

No blogger "needs" to write about anyfuckingthing, and they certainly don't need some other fucking blogger telling them what they "need" to write about.

If it were me, I wouldn't have even gone as far as DM and dignified your blithering bullshit with any response other than fucking laughing in your face.

padraig said...

This is a fascinating discussion thread. Thanks to Janet for dragging her readership into it ;)

I get the principle espoused by ScientistMother, but at the same time questions of home/life balance (as Janet points out in her recent post on the subject) involve not just one individual, but presumably a pair, both of whom have rights vis-a-vis that partnership. One of those rights is to be involved in any decisions regarding the publication of details, sordid or otherwise.

(I'll avoid gender linkages, since the "man/wife" dynamic doesn't apply to all domestic partnerships. I wonder how the lesbian/gay scientists feel about this whole recent conversation... bemused?)

I agree that DrugMonkey might have many useful contributions to the work/life dynamic conversation, but DrugMonkey may not have carte blanche to discuss such matters publicly. Indeed, I agree with him that while leading by example may be of very high value, this doesn't mean that everyone is required to put themselves forth as an example in all cases.

Plus, if my wife didn't want me to discuss such matters, it's hardly cricket to come out and say, "My wife doesn't want me to discuss such matters", as it is itself a discussion of such matters, no?

I don't think it's illegitimate for him to say, "This is an area which I prefer not to discuss in a public forum," regardless of the reason.

Isis the Scientist said...

" So I'll just take this opportunity to remind you that if you're don't ever find yourself stepping outside your comfort zone as a writer, it may well be time to try something different."

This from someone who never links to her own blog?

Anonymous said...

If it were me, I wouldn't have even gone as far as DM and dignified your blithering bullshit with any response other than fucking laughing in your face.

I heart PhysioProf! xxx

ScientistMother said...

The last Anon - DM doesn't need to defending, because this isn't an attack on him. He is the example of male science bloggers.

CPP - whatever, if you don't have anything constructive, don't bother coming here. I didn't tell DM that he HAS to blog about anything. As Janet said in her post, its about what we as a tribe value. As long as only women are talking about life/balance issues, it will be seen through a gender lens. This is not a gender issue.

Padraig - welcome to the blog. Yep Janet has very valid points and I have no issue with DM not wanting to blog about it. I feel like a broken record on this, more male science bloggers need to talk about these issues in order for it not to be viewed through a gender lens. Janets post is (which I'm not linking to as I'm on my iphone) an excellent (and much better written) reason for why more men (an example being DM) need to talk about it.

ScientistMother said...

Cath - DM himself has talked about the importance of being open and public about things such as cutting early to deal with your kids. I'm asking him to follow-up his original post, by following his own advice. I'm not randomingly saying you should talk about it. There is a reason Massimo wasn't linked :)

Becca said...

@Dr. Isis- I have a blog like a three year old on a trike has a motorcycle. And unlike CPP, I let that stop me. :-P

My comfort zone is... ever shifting. I do try to write outside of it in various contexts though.

Anonymous said...

The last Anon - DM doesn't need to defending, because this isn't an attack on him. He is the example of male science bloggers.


The post isn't called "Step up to the plate male science bloggers," it is called "Step up to the plate DrugMonkey". So yes you called out on him specifically to do something *you* thought he should do. You had no business making him an example of anything; the guy writes a very balanced blog. You want men's opinions? Well, if you didn't act as an asshole but asked nicely maybe someone would actually respond. PLS is a brave soul, but most men don't appreciate being called on to do anything they don't want to do, and certainly not by someone they don't give a rat's ass about.

The bean-mom said...

Scientistmother, I understand your point. I think it would be great if more men (and not just men scientists, but men in general) were to openly discuss family/work/balance issues; as you say, this acknowledges and reframes the "work/life/balance" issue as a general parental issue, not specifically a "women" issue.

I know many men who are deeply concerned with making time for their families and are committed to sharing equally in household and parenting responsbilities even as they pursue demanding careers (my husband is one of them). I think the typical "women-slant" on this issue (as in the recent ScienceCareers article that set off this uproar) does a disservice to these men as well as to women.

That said... hell, most men I know just don't like to discuss personal things much at all.

Cath, love your idea of a Scientiae inviting the male bloggers in to talk about this. Not demanding that you guys talk--just inviting you to.

ScientistMother said...

Anon - Hmm, yeah because DM asked why he was named as an example. I've quoted already extensively from his post. So far, outside of you, there has been no name calling or attacking of opinions. Whether DM blogs or doesn't blog about topics is upto him. See his post for his views on the importance of this. As for PLS, this isn't the first time, and I'm pretty sure it won't be the last time he blogs about this stuff? Why do you think he's brave soul doing it? Possibly because its not "manly" to say your concerned? Well that is bullshit.

Oh yeah I forgot, I should ask nicely like a good little girl? Fuck that shit, but I wasn't rude either.

BeanMom - I have created a bit of tempest haven't I? The take home message of this is an issue that effects everyone, seems to have been lost. Partly, I think that is my fault for not communicating clearly, partly I think some people just want to focus on the "how dare you ask someone to blog about something" tangent.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think he's brave soul doing it? Possibly because its not "manly" to say your concerned? Well that is bullshit.

First of all, mind your spelling (you're, not your). Secondly, you have no business deciding what's manly or not, not having a dick and all. Just as you don't want men to tell you what women are supposed to say or do.

Oh yeah I forgot, I should ask nicely like a good little girl?

You said it, not me. Check out the comments on DrugMonkey. Let me reiterate: men hate being called out to do or say stuff by people they don't give a rat's ass about, and will simply not respond, which is presumably not what you were after. So yeah I think you should have asked instead of demanded. But whatever.

ScientistMother said...

Anon - you really can't read can you? Everyone ,except for you and CPP, seems to understand the concept that's being discussed. If you don't have anything constructive don't bother commenting here.

I can't be bothered to get into a troll arguement with you. You're not worth my time or energy.

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Comrade PhysioProf said...

Whether DM blogs or doesn't blog about topics is upto him.

You keep saying this in the comments here, but did you even read your own fucking post? Because I am having trouble squaring your protestations that you didn't tell DoucheMonkey what to do with this sentence in your post:

You need to write about balancing your life with your science[.]

Becca said...

ScientistMother- see, you clearly didn't understand The Rules. You don't get to tell any (male) blogger what to blog about, yet every (male) asshole gets to tell you *how* to write your blog.

Mind, questions to clarify intent are very valuable when *how* a blog is written leaves room for confusion. But you've clarified your intent (even if your post wasn't crystal clear, your position surely is now), and you're still catching shit. Hmmm. I wonder why that might be.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

That was the part that I picked up on too...

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

sorry, my post crossed with Becca's, so "that part" referred to the part of your post that CPP quoted.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

see, you clearly didn't understand The Rules.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! What are you, Communication Is My Field, Junior Division?

Becca said...

@CPP- as you surely know, DrugMonkey has competently handled MANY more aggressive and douchey "you should blog about X" demands, than this one (the motivation for which he indicated he is sympathetic to). And yet, *this* is the one you jump out of the woodworks for. You are a chauvinist douche.

Kate said...

Becca, you have it exactly right. Plenty of people attack DrugMonkey for other material, and this is the first time I've seen so many people jump to his defense in this way. The Rules include:

-never, ever criticize anyone who has ever even once implied being an ally
-never, ever suggest someone behave more like an ally
-never, ever express the frustration that bubbles up from being a disempowered, second class citizen due to gender, sex, race, class, motherhood, etc
-close ranks around men who have ever been remotely sympathetic

And I do want to be clear here: I agree with ScientistMother that it would be great for DrugMonkey and others to talk about this more. DrugMonkey has kinda responded and indicated an unwillingness. Fine. What is pissing me off is all the other folks defending poor DM as though he can't respond to this stuff himself.

Also, Dr. Isis, I don't always link back to my blog either, because for a while my blogger profile was compromised and I needed time to pseudonymize it. I have noticed you and DrugMonkey and other SciBorg folks don't always link back to your blog, but you all, like ScientistMother, have recognizable enough pseudonyms that a google search readily reveals your blog. So why attack SM for not always linking back to her blog?

Anonymous said...

ScientistMother- see, you clearly didn't understand The Rules. You don't get to tell any (male) blogger what to blog about, yet every (male) asshole gets to tell you *how* to write your blog.

I am a female asshole, thankyouverymuch. And am totally with CPP on this one; ScientistMother was out of line and no one here is unable to read or somehow else "communication-challenged". Reread your own post, for fuck's sake.

Becca said...

@anon 'asshole female': "ScientistMother was out of line and no one here is unable to read or somehow else "communication-challenged". Reread your own post, for fuck's sake."
In what sense was she out of line? She has a difference of opinion with DrugMonkey regarding what qualifies one for a certain label ("ally"), but DM never said it was like, totes crazy/wrong/unacceptable for her to think of him that way or anything- he just asserted that something is not part of his identity. Look, if ScientistMother called DM "a hockey fan" and DM said "well, I don't think of myself that way because 'hockey fans' are pompous jerks, plus I don't want to have to defend all aspects of hockey" (keeping in mind DM has written posts praising hockey) I don't think ScientistMother would have been "out of line"- confused or incorrect, perhaps*, but not breaking rules (what else does 'out of line' mean, than breaking rules? It certainly has the connotation of out of bounds in a game, to my thinking, but maybe you thought it had some other connotation???)

(*depending on one's views on the primacy of self-identity in labeling).

Pray tell, why is it such a horrible thing to think DM, given what he has written, might be a good guy to do what we all pretty much agree would be a good thing (i.e. write about balance from a male perspective)?
Indeed, I am inclined to wonder: 'for fucks sake, did you even read DM's linked post'?

ScientistMother said...

OK, lets see how this whole conversation started. Isis wrote a post about the ScienceCareers article about balancing science with the home responsibilities. Frustration was expressed how all the home responsibilities are some how a womens problem and how all the articles on a balancing science careers with other responsibilites (be it kids, partners, dogs, cats, fish, elderly parents, hobbies etc) are all catered and/or directed to women. As if only women deal with this.

In that comment thread I stated that the issues of balancing work with other responsibilities is thought of as womens issue because the majority of people who talk about it are women. DM was an example of a high-profile dude, who probably (I don't know for sure) deals with this but rarely talks about. Why did I use DM as the example to represent a class of men. Because he has posted on the importance of the power of example for changing cultures.

My point is not that DM must take charge and start posting on this topic. My point is that ALL MEN that deal with these issues need to be talking about it. I recognize that I can sit here forever talking about how work/life balance is not issue exclusive to men, but until men start talking about it the perception is not going to change.

If out of the whole post and following comment thread, you're going to pick out the one sentence where I said "you need to talk" that fine. You can do that.

Nor am I going to apologize for it, because he does need to. As does CPP, Bikemonkey, Duwayne, PalMD, PLS and every other guy that cares about this issue. If they don't want to, thats fine. But the need, the requirement that men have to talk about this as being their issue as well is not going to go away.

As I said at the end of the post, until the MEN talk about it, the perception that this is a womens' issue is not going to change.

Everyone that is coming here to say how dare you tell someone to write about X, don't bother leaving a comment. That is not the point of this discussion. The point of this post which, Bean-mom, Frau-Tech, Padraig, Janet, is that men struggle with balancing their responsibilities as much as women. The perception that balance is only a women's issue will not change until men start talking about.

padraig said...

> As I said at the end of the
> post, until the MEN talk
> about it, the perception
> that this is a womens' issue
> is not going to change.

I'm not sure I buy this premise.

Note, I'm not saying that the underlying problem doesn't exist, nor that change wouldn't be more likely to occur faster if everyone starting talking about it, regardless of gender.

Social change happens in lots of different ways. Sometimes it happens because many people drive the change. Sometimes it happens because one or two or three individuals stand up and push hard.

Sometimes it happens because the next generation grows up and looks back at the preconceptions of their elders and shakes their head sadly and says, "Jesus Christ, some people in my family are idiots", and go on to build lives that don't resemble that of their forebears.

Societal revolution does occur, I'm not sure one can make the case that it universally provides better results than the normal process of fuddy-duddies dying off and less hidebound people establishing new cultural norms as they accept roles of societal power. It does lack immediacy as a solution, but it also does have a tendency to be far more embedded, lasting, and less likely to have all sorts of unintended consequences.

This is *not* intended as an argument that irritated people ought to sit back and wait for society to catch up with justice.

I'm just pointing out that you're using a lot of declarative language here (if this, then that), as opposed to probablistic language (if this, then hopefully that), and I don't think that's justified in this case. It clouds the issue of an ethical evaluation of responsibility (what's the best thing that I, as an individual, can do to advance a just society, given my circumstances and constraints) with a moral imperative (hang the consequences, I MUST do this thing). Moral imperatives do clarify action, but they also lead to all sorts of ethically questionable decisions.

> The point of this post... is
> that men struggle with balancing
> their responsibilities as much
> as women. The perception that
> balance is only a women's issue
> will not change until men
> start talking about (it).

Struggling with balancing responsibilities is a human problem, sure.

Does anyone honestly believe that men don't struggle with these problems? Heck, even couples I know that follow very "traditional" roles have difficulties, oftentimes channeled into "I have to work harder/longer/see my kids less so that my family has better schooling/opportunities/etc."

Culturally, it's a norm that men don't discuss these issues with the same audience that women do, in the same way, or with the same goals in mind. I'm not claiming that this has any sort of gender-base, just a gender-linkage.

It's probably a good idea for the primary bacon-winner to discard the concept of the "traditional male role" entirely and look at their role less as a structured class. It will definitely lead to better mental health outcomes.

In other words, "men" ought to talk about work-life balance more, even if they only do it for the sake of themselves, or "men" in general.

However, because of those cultural norms (about how men discuss things and with whom), I'm really not convinced that this particular medium is an effective method for transmitting the message. There are men who blog *exclusively* about work-life balance (I read a couple of them occasionally), but they don't get the sort of traffic that is going to change any cultural norms (indeed, I doubt they have an audience besides that which already buys into the message).

padraig said...

Case in point: I looked at a bunch of women scientist bloggers (and women working bloggers, for that matter), and find a lot of women bloggers linking to other women bloggers who talk about work-life balance as part of their blogging experience.

I don't find too many of them linking to men bloggers who write about work-life balance, though.

You've got over a million results in the google blog search for "stay-at-home dad" (http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=stay-at-home+dad&btnG=Search+Blogs).

If this is an issue to the "woman blogging" community, maybe the "woman blogging" community ought to find men *already blogging* about what they think men ought to blog about, and link to that?

ScientistMother said...

Padraig - Use of declarative language, is probably problematic agreed.

You don't buy the premise that work/life balance is perceived as women's issue or that having men talk about it will change that perception? I think Isis made a good case for the perception in her original post.

If you think that having men talk about it will not change the perception, then how do you propose to change the perception?

Yes I do think that a large proportion of society thinks that men don't struggle with these issues. I don't have stats or studies to prove it, but I rarely notice articles in men's magazines or men's news section about it (which is why thats my opinion). From the comment thread of Isis's post, I understood the frustration was that the issues gets treated as a women's issue, even though its not. It does a dis-service to men to have articles/advice or the topic itself geared that way.

Personally, it annoys the crap out of me (in our local area) that politicians come to Women in Science events and talk about access to daycare, early childhood education, public education improvements etc. But never mention these things at their breakfast with the City Business Association.

How do we get these issues, which affect us all to be treated appropriately? I don't know. I think having more people talk about it increases awareness, which may leads to solutions.

Maybe blogging isn't the best medium for it, maybe real life action is better - I don't know. In real life I totally appreciate and admire my male colleagues and PI's that do talk about these issues and advocate for change with me.

ScientistMother said...

Becca / Kate - yeah I totally did not read the rules. Did you know that "we" turned on DM? Who is this we that turned? Is it you, Becca and myself? Is it us ladies that wanted it all? or is it us individuals that want gender equity? or those that want to get rid of gender roles? Seriously, did I attack DM? I don't remember calling him names or physically attacking him. I did call him an ally, which he didn't like and I never pushed on. Was it that I quoted from him? I give up...

Cloud said...

@Padraig- I was going to sit this one out, because I am not an academic and I actually feel like this is not one of the issues that creates problems in my personal life.

But I have to point out that we aren't necessarily looking for the stay at home dad perspective here. (Although it is certainly a valid perspective.) We're looking for the perspective of the male half of a dual career couple. That perspective is mostly missing from the discourse. Also, the two male scientist bloggers who are known to this group to have discussed the issue (PLS and PalMD) HAVE been linked to.

This is also not something that is limited to the blogosphere. I am asked very, very frequently about how I balance my career and my homelife now that I'm a mother. I have specifically asked my husband about this, and he confirms that no one- not one single person- has ever asked him that. We actually have made very similar adjustments to maintain "balance" and split chores and child-care as evenly as we can. (And yes, Scientist Mother, it drives me absolutely batty that I am supposed to feel lucky to have this arrangement. No, I feel like an equal.)

Finally, I want to point out that this issue is not unique to academics, or even to scientists. The data I have seen all imply that the problem as experienced in academia is fairly similar to that experienced in other demanding careers. The issue is discussed in many different work/life forums, and in all of those forums, I have seen similar concerns raised.

With all that said- I assume that DrugMonkey has some solid reason for not blogging about something he obviously cares about. I suspect it is a personal rule (or perhaps a rule agreed with his partner) to leave this sort of thing private, which I can respect. I have such rules myself, although obviously not about the arrangement of our household chores, because I actually wrote a detailed post about it quite awhile ago.

Kate said...

I can tell you who did -- Sci-mommies! We are teh evil! Someone over at DrugMonkey's blog came up with the name. Never mind that some of the folks closing ranks around DM are themselves scientists and mothers.

Sigh.

Padraig, I think you're arguing from a false assumption, that societal revolution does happen and is useful. Go check out PalMD's recent post on this issue of work. He's an "enlightened man" yet his wife stays at home and he works. And the whole comment thread is populated with women saying the same stuff: how did I get here, how did I get here.

Look, we all think we'll do it differently than our parents AND THEN WE DON'T. There is this ridiculous popular notion that biology is rigid and culture changeable, and it's just wrong. When we comfort ourselves with this idea that change will come, we don't do the work to make it happen, which is actually very hard. Culture, traditions, expectations, these are more entrenched in many ways than biology is "hard-wired." So yeah, there are a lot of us trying to get even more people off their butts and helping with that change. Because it won't happen with the same people saying the same stuff.

Cloud said...

Oh, and the data that I have seen show that gay/lesbian couples tend to have much more equitable divisions of household chores than heterosexual couples do. That data covers all segments of the population, though, not just academia.

padraig said...

@ ScientistMother

> You don't buy the premise that
> work/life balance is perceived
> as women's issue or that having
> men talk about it will change
> that perception?

Perceived as a women's issue by whom? Is it actually perceived as a women's issue, or are you using a proxy metric that perhaps doesn't completely measure what you think it does?

Do "work/life" articles show up in Women's magazines because society perceives "work/life" as a woman's issue? Or is it because editors get letters from their (predominantly woman) readership about requests to see work/life articles? Or advertisers who want to sell crap using a Super Woman advertising campaign gently encourage such articles? Or because women (again, not necessarily gender-caused but gender-linked) subscribe to magazines for advice-related reading rather than procedural-related reading, and (given that women as members of the workforce is still fairly recent, generationally speaking) this is an area in which they are actively looking for advice? Or some combination thereof? What are the most popular women's magazines?

Do "work/life" issues *not* show up in men's magazines because men really don't think about work/life issues? Or do they not show up in men's magazines because men read magazines for escapism (maybe because they've internalized this conflict) or "howto" reasons instead of advice? What are the most popular men's magazines? Do they even have a mechanism for advice columns?

I have the impression that the most popular magazines that "cater" to a woman audience are actually *advice driven*. The most popular magazines that cater to a man audience seem not to be.

Admittedly, this is nothing but an impression, and I haven't measured this myself in any way that could be described as rigorous, but I'm sure somebody out there in the social science literature has done so.

padraig said...

@ Cloud

> We're looking for the perspective
> of the male half of a dual
> career couple.

Honestly, have you looked for it? I mean, really, actively looked for it? I assure you that there are indeed people who blog about this sort of thing, and I would be astounded if you couldn't find this by looking for it.

So is the issue that you can't find men who blog about this sort of thing (when you haven't looked), or is it that you expect men that blog, whom you already read for whatever reason, ought to blog about it?

Is that, yanno, entirely a fair expectation, given the sensitive nature of personal relationships? What if the woman involved in partnership with the male blogger you're talking about doesn't want her significant other talking about their marriage to all and sundry... is it still a fair expectation?

(Maybe)

But if it is indeed fair, isn't it also fair to say that the women blogging community has something of a responsibility to seek out those who do blog about what they want men to blog about, and stand them up as examples? If men need to write about it more, don't women also need to go find the men that write about it more? You're a loose community, to be sure, but you're still a community. Rather than just blogging about work/life balance from your own perspective, or talking about how someone else is or isn't talking about work/life balance from the perspective you'd like to see, why not start linking to those that are?

PhysioProf's coarse language aside, his point is germane, particularly if it's the case that people are already writing about what you're talking about, and you're not troubling yourself to go find it.

> I am asked very, very frequently
> about how I balance my career
> and my homelife now that I'm
> a mother. I have specifically
> asked my husband about this,
> and he confirms that no one-
> not one single person- has
> ever asked him that.

Is this an accurate measure of social perception? It's a proxy measurement, I grant you, but does it really tell you anything useful?

Married men don't typically discuss their sex lives with each other, either (I have no idea if women do or not, as a class). This doesn't make sex not a men's issue.

Married men don't typically discuss their career tracks with each other, either. They talk about the last Celtics-Laker game, or politics, or their new gadget or tool kit. When they do discuss personal relationships (at least, in my experience) they have a tendency to do so in one-on-one conversations, certainly not via magazines.

To summarize the rather lengthy last few paragraphs: is the lack of visible instances of these discussions in a particular media truly a measure of whether or not men think something is or isn't a women's issue, or is it just an indicator that men are bad about talking about non-trivial personally weighty subjects on the whole?

padraig said...

@ Kate

> Padraig, I think you're arguing
> from a false assumption, that
> societal revolution does happen
> and is useful.

No, actually, I argued that it can be useful, and also that it might not be. It never occurred to me that someone might argue that it doesn't happen.

> Look, we all think we'll do
> it differently than our
> parents AND THEN WE DON'T.

Really? You don't think that the cultural norms of today aren't significantly different from the cultural norms of even a dozen years ago? How do you explain the generational change on a wide swath of issues (gay marriage, legal drug use, abortion, contraception, women working at all, etc.)?

> There is this ridiculous
> popular notion that biology
> is rigid and culture
> changeable, and it's just wrong.

I think "culture is immutable" is as seriously flawed belief as the converse, at least in our particular context.

> Culture, traditions, expectations,
> these are more entrenched in many ways than biology
> is "hard-wired."

Entrenched is the wrong word.

I grant you, many cultures are more rigid than others, and there are tons of examples of slow-adapting cultures, but culture does change, due to a wide variety of impact events. Immigration affects culture. Emigration affects culture. GDP affects culture. Socioeconomic mobility affects culture. Birthrate affects culture. Education affects culture. Technology skews it wildly back and forth. And yeah, individual evangelists affect culture.

To say cultural norms are "entrenched" isn't quite right; cultural norms are dependent variables, and all of those factors above are the independent
variables (or, at least, subindependent) that affect cultural norms. You have a high rate of change in some sufficiently large combination of those independent variables, you're going to have cultural change.

Now, of course, it's *crazy-insane* to say that because one particular culture (be it the overall U.S., one region thereof, Denmark, or Swaziland for that matter) has some rate of change, that the others do or don't have that same rate of change; cultural inertia is going to vary.

ScientistMother said...

Padraig - You now have me confused How do you measure how things are perceived. Most look at popular culture. You may not think our anecdotal evidence is valid, but I think the large number of respondents in Isis's post supports it.

is the lack of visible instances of these discussions in a particular media truly a measure of whether or not men think something is or isn't a women's issue, or is it just an indicator that men are bad about talking about non-trivial personally weighty subjects on the whole?

You could be right if we were only looking at magazines / shows directed at either men or women. ScienceCareers is directed to both, as is The Globe and Mail, NY Times, popular culture forums, which many (rightly or wrongly) take has indicators of popular culture.

Look at the way politicians deliver speeches and target their messages, they do this largely based on perceptions and/or data on what is or isn't a women's issue.

A large part of social change come from changes in how mainstream media protrays issues/individuals. Shows like Ellen and Will&Grace are considered groundbreaking for a reason. Movies like Philadelphia, Roots. Why do minorities push for positive representation in mainstream shows? Because it helps to change perceptions.

I am linked to PLS, one the individuals that do talk about this. Apparently he's considered brave for doing so.

How do you think perceptions could be changed? How do you think this issue, which is a human issue be dealt with?

padraig said...

@ ScientistMother

> How do you measure how things
> are perceived.

I dunno, I'm just an armchair sociologist. I grok social science research methods just fine, though. Besides, in this particular conversation, I'm not the one with the hypothesis, I don't have to come up with a measure. I'm asking if *you* have one, and under what grounds you justify that measure.

> Most look at popular culture.

"Most", of whom? "Look", how? What constitutes "popular culture"?

> You may not think our
> anecdotal evidence is valid,
> but I think the large number
> of respondents in Isis's
> post supports it.

This is *terrible* social science. We're scientists! I understand entirely that this particular question of sex-bias strikes a whole class of the community rather viscerally (and that's to be expected and understood). That means one might reasonably ask that we be extra-careful, no?

Talk about a self-selected sample loaded with confirmation bias. No disrespect meant to *anybody* in the field of science who is also a woman (all of whom have differing experiences to myself), but just in the comments I've seen on these related threads, I've seen a lot of "I perceive this, judge it that, and therefore recommend the other".

I don't know that anyone in those comment threads (a) actually is a social scientist (b) has corrected for their own bias (c) has attempted to validate their perception (d) is therefore judging the scenario using something close to an objective measure (e) has any training in cultural studies or sociology and therefore (f) has any empirically valid claim to their recommendation actually producing a measurable result. That's a lot of fuzzy.

Whether or not their claimed recommendation therefore results in a valid ethical obligation to another class of individuals is a philosophical question that we can only get to if we agree that the original premise is sound.

padraig said...

Let me rephrase my commentary. It seems that we have a number of different issues flying around, and I want to make sure we're (you and I, that is) are talking about the same things.

One. I agree and will accept, for the purposes of this discussion, that there are measurable differences between the male and female experience in the workplace (science or no).

Two. I agree and will accept that some (indeed, many) of these measurable differences are inequitable and constitute a discriminatory environment against the female experience. I agree, change is desirable.

Three. I agree and will accept that some (not all) of those resulting discriminatory factors are the result of malignant directed action.

Four. I do not agree, and will not accept (without confirmatory findings, anyway), that most of those discriminatory factors are still the result of malignant directed action.

Five. I believe (loosely, and will accept rebuttal with even a small amount of evidence to back it up) that many of the discriminatory factors in the workplace environment are far less a result of malignant directed action, and more due to practical conditions that exist due to the legacy effects of generations of previous malignant directed actions. This isn't in an attempt to excuse them, merely to point out that mitigation efforts that are designed to counteract directed influences are of dubious value in counteracting established biases.

Six. I'm unconvinced (but am willing to entertain the possibility or probability) that practical active intervention to remove these legacy effects will produce the result desired any faster than cultural entropy. Kate at least believes this is the case, why?

Seven. I agree and will accept that there is a tendency among advice-related authors to offer advice without passing judgment on the underlying condition.

Eight. I agree that it is fair and equitable for anyone to demand that those offering advice to clarify their position on the underlying condition, i.e., if someone wants to start talking about work/life balance in the workforce, predicated upon an undeclared assessment of the practical conditions, they ought to turn around and declare that assessment.

Nine. I agree that asking men who support the idea of removing gender-linkage from the conversation of home/life balance is certainly reasonable and doesn't deserve a pejorative response.

Ten. On the other hand, I don't think it's unreasonable for any one of those men to demur, simply due to the nature of personal relationships... and (this part being my own personal belief) the fact that the ethical obligation someone has to their partner certainly outweighs the ethical obligation they may have in this particular instance to the greater community.

Eleven. Given the fact that I can find men who actually *do* discuss these issues, I'm a little surprised that this particular tempest has sprung up in this particular teacup; it seems to me that if "work/life" issues represent a long standing gender inequality, those interested in rectifying these inequalities would have sought out people already discussing such issues, and I don't see evidence that this is the case.

padraig said...

To clarify the last: is this particular issue of work/life balance being perceived as sex-linked *really* indicative of something that you deeply believe needs to be changed? If so, why haven't you engaged the community of men who discuss it?

Maybe the men who you *want* to discuss it would be more amenable (or able, if restricted by relationship obligations) to doing so, if it there was an existing conversation that they could engage in?

Again, this last isn't intended to be a "blaming the victim" re-framing of the discussion above, but an additional conversation altogether. In the end, we could all agree that male science bloggers have a moral imperative to come out of the closet on this topic. *In addition to* that question this is a factor: would this perhaps be a constructive way for women bloggers engage men in the work/life discussion?

Cloud said...

@Padraig- I think you just enjoy a good argument and like showing off how well you understand the mechanics of arguing. Fine. But this isn't just a fun argument for me or the other women commenting here. This issue, and the BS societal expectations that surround it, have a real impact on our lives. Does it impact your life? If you answered no, think about what that means.

I haven't looked for scientist men blogging about how they balance their work/life. Why? Because as I said, the actual mechanics of how to divide up our chores isn't a big concern in my life. Hubby and I have that sorted, thank you very much. If it weren't for the bile I feel rising every time I hear that motherhood is the reason that more women aren't making it to the top of science (or any other profession), I might just ignore these sorts of discussions.

My original point to you was that directing the people who are concerned with this issue to blogs written by SAHDs was missing the point but a long shot. You missed it by so far that you weren't really in the same neighborhood. Think about what it means that you missed the point by such a large margin.

(Here's an experiment for you: go google "work-life balance" or "dual career couples" and check the gender distribution of what you find. No, I'm not going to do this for you, but either of those searches would be more relevant than the search you did.)

If you'd read to the end of my comment, you would have seen that I agree that it is not fair to expect any particular male to blog about any topic he doesn't want to talk about in public.

But I find the overall trend of men not discussing this informative. Why should the question of who does the laundry be at all inflammatory?

If men don't think about this issue, why not? And why do women- even women like myself, who don't have a problem with it in their personal lives- think about it? Could it be that we're being told that this problem is the reason we're not advancing in our fields? No, there is no sexism. It is just that women are having such a hard time balancing their work and home lives. Well, that's utter sexist BS, because the problem is not properly a women's issue. It is a people issue. And all the men running around the comments sections on these posts telling us that there is no discrepancy, or if there is, it is just because men don't talk about these things- well, that is BS, too.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Ah well, at least we're now closer to discussing the actual issue than what looks to have been a misunderstanding. Who knew the internet could ever blow something like that up into a full-on pile-on controversy...?

padraig said...

Lest anyone think I'm simply trying to troll-via-word count, here's a post I wrote yesterday (published today after an edit run):

http://padraic2112.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/these-things-i-assume-to-be-true/

Kate said...

I can't believe it took me so long to realize Padraig is a mansplainer. I am so glad he can school me on these issues.

ScientistMother said...

Okay - I'm leaving 1-3 since we agree on them

(3&4) what do you mean by malignant directed action? Can we keep this to just work/life stuff. Because to say there is no malignant directed action against the female experience is incorrect. Sexual harassment in the workplace, violence against women, oppression of women's choice - I don't want to get into that.

(5) I agree that we're dealing with established bias. Do I understand that you don't think we should try to change those bias? The article below does an excellent examination of how current fiscal policies from tax breaks to child support policies reinforce traditional roles and help to maintain the gender gap in earnings which reinforces the traditional roles. Does that not mean we should change those policies?

The Just Commodification of Women, Equal Care Obligations for Men, and Autonomous Households:
Gendering the Comparative Analysis of Welfare States in 20 OECD Countries
Paul Kershaw, Ph.D

(6) I agree that some people are not going to change - my FIL will never pick up his dishes or do any housework. Unfortunately, that is the behaviour he has modeled to his sons. Had it not been for my husband and I modeling and discussing with them the importance of equality and respect, they would have the same misogynist views as my FIL. The younger BIL and the younger males cousins (also raised in a very traditional homes have changed) because of directed action from myself and my husband. When they come to my house, all the men are expected to pick up their dishes, help in preparing meals and assist in clean up. I've been married for over 10 years. It wasn't easy changing their attitudes, but now that some of them are married, their wives appreciate it.

Michael Johnson changed the perception that HIV/AIDs was gays man disease when he came out with being infected. Having role models changes perceptions. Isn't that well documented/accepted?

7/8 - I'm going to be honest and say Uh? I'm not sure what you're saying.

9- agreed

10 - I totally thinks is fair for one to opt not talk about something out of respect for partner or lack of interest. Doesn't me I can't want them to do talk about / write about stuff.

11 - yes there are individuals working to change this issue. And if you read some of Paul Kershaws research (i've heard him speak as well) he has written stuff on the lack of the masculine voice and the need for policies that enable men and women to be equal partners care (ie dedicated paternity/elderly care leave). Some bloggers do talk about (I linked to them) I feel that more need to do so.

ScientistMother said...

Padraig - I comment on PLS blog regularly. When he talked about leaving the wee one at daycare, I left comments and talked to him about it.

IRL i have engaged with male PI's who have talked about. One sought me out to find out how they could help their grad student who was having kid (since I am a grad student with a kid) He wanted to know how to support her and we had an excellent discussion of strategies. He's come to me for help with finding childcare, he has advocated for more support for parents from the department. So I have engaged in those discussion. I have not engaged with the Stay-at-home dad community. Nor do I with the "mommyblogging" community. The community that embraced me was the tribe of science. Which I am so grateful for because with their help I've made some beneficial choices.

padraig said...

@ Cloud

> I think you just enjoy a good
> argument and like showing off
> how well you understand the
> mechanics of arguing.

First part, guilty. Second, well, if you're talking about making an actual argument, you better understand mechanics.

> Fine. But this isn't just a
> fun argument for me or the
> other women commenting here.

Whether or not I think and argument is worthwhile is very loosely coupled to whether or not it's "fun". Regardless, I admit I'm offended at the implication that this is a driveby trolling on my part.

> This issue, and the BS
> societal expectations that
> surround it, have a real
> impact on our lives.

I agree.

> Does it impact your life?

Oh, you betcha.

> If you answered no, think
> about what that means.

Think about the implications of your assumption that I *might* answer no. Perhaps it indicates you might be prejuding my commentary?

> Because as I said, the actual
> mechanics of how to divide
> up our chores isn't a big
> concern in my life. Hubby
> and I have that sorted,
> thank you very much.

So isn't it likely that people who, like you, have "this sorted" feel the same way, when they're men? Maybe that's why *they* don't blog about it?

> My original point to you was
> that directing the people
> who are concerned with this
> issue to blogs written by
> SAHDs was missing the point
> by (ed) a long shot.

I'm not directing them anywhere. I'm asking why, if they are concerned with this issue, they haven't explored people who might have discussed it, and SAHDs seem to be a likely candidate to start.

> You missed it by so far that
> you weren't really in the
> same neighborhood. Think
> about what it means that
> you missed the point by such
> a large margin.

I think you're inferring quite a bit, here.

padraig said...

> (Here's an experiment for
> you: go google "work-life
> balance" or "dual career
> couples" and check the gender
> distribution of what you find.

I'll grant you that you're going to find more women talking about it than men. So?

I think its eminently plausible that this is due to the fact that women are more likely to talk about it than men, and more likely to talk about it publicly than men.

I don't think that necessarily implies that women are more likely to have issues with work/life balance than men.

Now, I will grant you that women are more likely to have sex-stereotyped issues with work/life balance. I also grant that men who are in a non-traditional role are more likely to have sex-stereotyped issues with work/life balance. And like I said, I agree that's a problem. But work/life balance issues, on the whole, are asexual.

> But I find the overall trend
> of men not discussing this
> informative.

Why? You're not a man, or a sociologist, how can you draw a conclusion about what men are *thinking*, based upon what they might or might not be *discussing*, in a particular limited arena?

> Why should the question of
> who does the laundry be at
> all inflammatory?

Point of fact, I have no freaking idea. My wife generally runs the loads, because she doesn't trust me not to miss one of her items that can't be exposed to the non-gentle cycle (we'll bypass for the minute that she's shrunk more of my shirts than I have her bras), but I fold it more often than she does. This entire problem space seems very alien to me, because the whole concept of sex-determined anything (other than a couple of biological functions) seems downright ludicrous to me.

> If men don't think about this
> issue, why not?

For some men, it's because they can't see the forest for the trees. For others, it's 'cause they can't see the trees for the forest. For yet some others, it's because they don't realize there's anything growing over there.

> And why do women- even women
> like myself, who don't have
> a problem with it in their
> personal lives- think about
> it?

Because it's a problem? You perceive it to be a problem more than a man in a similar position might, because you talk to women that are affected by it, and they don't?

I'm not saying it's not a problem. I'm saying, the commentary thread here lacks a critical approach to quantifying the problem, and that seems odd for a *science* blog, doesn't it?

Unless of course ScientistMother or the other commentators are positivists who thinks that social science is all a bunch of hooey, but then we're having a whole 'nuther conversation entirely.

padraig said...

> Could it be that we're being
> told that this problem is
> the reason we're not
> advancing in our fields?

If you are, the person saying that is a moron. You can quote me on that :)

> No, there is no sexism. It
> is just that women are
> having such a hard time
> balancing their work and
> home lives.

The person saying that is likely also a moron. Or, if they're demonstrably intelligent, they're so wracked with confirmation bias themselves that they are useless as a member of the discussion.

There is no way that could be characterized as anything other than a woefully short-sighted, grossly overgeneralized and unsupported conclusion. Bad scientist! No biscuit! (This includes that idiot Satoshi Kanazawa who wrote the world's "greatest" flamebait ever).

> Well, that's utter sexist BS

It's B.S., yep! I agree, 100%. I don't know that uttering BS that has a sexist conclusion automatically makes you sexist, but as the magic 8 ball says, "signs point to 'yes'".

> And all the men running around
> the comments sections on
> these posts telling us that
> there is no discrepancy, or
> if there is, it is just
> because men don't talk about
> these things- well, that is
> BS, too.

Okay, look, if you want men to talk about these things, it's hardly cricket to jump on their comments when they show up and claim that they're either trolls, or don't understand what you're talking about, or that they're trying to cloud the issue or explain it away.

I'm trying to clarify the issue. What, exactly, is the problem you're trying to fix?

If you're trying to fix work/life balance for everybody, I'm on board.

If you're trying to fix work/life balance for women (who currently bear a disproportionate amount of an imbalance), I'm on board with that too.

If you're asking for men to blog about such things, I'm on board.

If you're asking for men scientists to blog about such things, I'm on board with that, too.

If you're asking for men to blog about how it's a terrible problem because people say its a terrible problem, I'm so not on board with that, because it's bad science.

You can't understand a phenomena before you start investigating it. I really doubt that most of the people involved in this discussion on any of the blogs that have been crossed linked have done step one in investigating this, as a scientific question.

That's okay, if you're writing blog posts about your personal opinions or your observations about popular culture.

That's even okay if you're writing blog posts about your personal opinions or your observations about popular culture on a blog that you normally dedicate to science, as long as you stick to calling it your opinion or your experience or whatever.

What I'm seeing, here, is a collection of anecdotes being presented as de facto proof of a belief. Not just any belief, but a specific set of beliefs that have led some (not including you in particular here) to demanding a course of action.

That seems to me to be the sort of thing one expects to find on Huffington Post or RedState, not on a science blog.

padraig said...

@ Kate

> mansplainer

Nice job of encouraging that dialogue!

padraig said...

@ ScientistMother

The distinction between malignant directed action and established biases is important because they have different mitigation strategies. This coming from the security wonk.

If someone is abusing a position of authority for sex-bias, that's a particular problem that can be addressed particular ways.

If someone is dealing with established biases, you can't deal with it the same way.

Example to clarify:

Man trades sex for promotion. Bad. Ought to be tackled, requires a plan. Alienating the man via mitigation issues is not really an issue (provided they work, of course) - if the oversight body fires the man, he can resent it all he wants and it's less likely to affect the woman involved.

(crazy stalker cases, of course, exempted, trying to illustrate a different point, here).

Woman is subjected to psychological pressure via a cultural norm from her Vietnamese grandmother's background to adopt a certain home role. Also bad. She's probably not willing to alienate her grandmother. She's going to have to deal with that situation differently, yes?

Now, I agree, they're both unjust. They both need to go away. The first, I'm all on board with forcing the issue, throw the asshole out, establish sanctions, go team.

The second probably is likely *not* going to go away via anything other than entropy. The woman can decide to reject her grandmother's cultural norms, and deal with the consequences, and the best that I can do is offer moral support.

Regarding your specific example of the tax code, absolutely, we should change tax policies. We should tackle established fiscal rules that enforce those norms (DA WOMAN STAYS HOME), rather than support an environment (Hey, maybe subsidizing a stay-at-home parent is a good thing).

> When they come to my house,
> all the men are expected to
> pick up their dishes, help
> in preparing meals and assist
> in clean up.

That's a good example.

> I've been married for over 10
> years. It wasn't easy changing
> their attitudes, but now that
> some of them are married,
> their wives appreciate it.

I bet. These are the sorts of methods that I think will effectively pay off, in the long run, when it comes to removing these sorts of embedded biases. I do them, too.

padraig said...

> 7/8 - I'm going to be honest
> and say Uh? I'm not sure what
> you're saying.

Sorry, in the attempt to be clearly general, I got too general :)

The original article, and follow up bits by Jim Austin. It's totally fair to point out to Jim that his piece tacitly approves of the status quo, by not mentioning that the status quo ought to be changed.

> 10 - (edit) Doesn't me I can't
> want them to do talk about
> / write about stuff.

Nope, sure doesn't. And I think those people who harped a little too hard on you asking, just based upon the post title, was out of line.

Regarding point #11, this is the first post I've read at your blog, so I was probably reasoning ahead of my data, my bad.

I have noticed however that it isn't uncommon for people to turn to someone and ask, "Hey, why aren't you doing this thing to correct this injustice" instead of searching out those people who are already working on that problem and highlighting them.

On the one hand, that's a natural inclination. DrugMonkey is a blogger you read, turning to him and asking him to participate in a conversation is a normal thing to do. On the other hand, somebody else is probably already begging for someone to come and shine the spotlight on their fight, and it's actually of bigger net worth to draw attention to them.

I blog about security, and science, and math, and bad logic... (most often, I'm blogging about blather). If someone came to me and asked me to blog about animal shelters (or racial inequality, or sex biases), I'd probably demur even though I have a rescue dog and support my local animal shelter (and abhor institutional racism and sexism). That doesn't mean that I don't care, or that I don't have an opinion, it might just mean that I'm not sure I have the right frame, currently, to speak up on the issue in question.

Plus, of course, I can be meticulous and pedantic, and I dissect just about everything I talk about... and the next thing you know I've got people calling me a mansplainer.

Not that I care what Kate thinks of me, it just gets frustrating when you're trying to take the time to get a hold of an issue and someone decides to dismiss everything you are saying because one or more bits of it tickles their unfancy.

Becca said...

@padraig-
It seems to me that there are always plenty of people to advocate 'don't rock the boat, let the old eejits die off'- from the time of women's suffrage to the Civil Rights struggles of the 60s, and today with e.g. gay marriage.

It seems to me that successful movements generally depend on a committed group of people, both moderates and extremists, who are willing to act. And, dare I say it, ask (or demand!) that others act. Not *just* find people already acting and congratulate them in a recursive back patting exercise.

Cloud said...

Padraig:

You referred a bunch of people talking about the problems balancing household chores in two career families to blogs written by stay at home dads... by definition not a two career family.

The fact that you don't know that motherhood and/or the problems balancing home and career are advanced as reasons that there aren't more women in science shows that you don't actually know anything about this subject. It is actually a very common explanation. Maybe you should do some background reading.

I don't agree with just dismissing you as a mansplainer, but I can certainly understand the temptation. You have demonstrated a remarkable lack of knowledge about a subject you seem willing to argue endlessly about.

I've assumed nothing about you except what I have tried to understand from your arguments. I'm done with that now.

padraig said...

@ becca

> It seems to me that there
> are always plenty of people
> to advocate 'don't rock the
> boat, let the old eejits
> die off'

Yes, it seems that way to me, too. I'm not saying a little boat rocking isn't a good idea. Or even a lot of boat rocking.

But when you're talking about really complex social issues, tackling individual facets of the problem requires different courses of action.

Is it a bad idea for someone to ask people to clarify what they want, and why they think it will work?

Are we rocking the boat to turn it over, or to change direction? Each sorta demands a different approach.

> It seems to me that successful
> movements generally depend
> on a committed group of
> people, both moderates and
> extremists, who are willing
> to act.

Yes, it seems that way to me, too. Generally. However, I'm not a student of sociology or history so I'm leery of jumping off assuming that what "seems to me" is the right way to go.

Doesn't this sort of smack of an anti-science approach? Go with your gut feel?

And there are plenty of movements that had temporary success, that can easily be argued to have grown well outside of the at least some of initial motivators intentions (say, the French Revolution, the Communist takeover of Tsarist Russia, military intervention in Vietnam, the Afghanistan invasion). Examples obviously don't translate directly and are provided for illustrative purposes only - I'm not intending to directly compare feminism with communism, here. Merely pointing out that starting a movement (even with a clear direction) doesn't always go where you intend.

In many cases, "DO SOMETHING" started a cycle of desperate action at a facet of a problem, without looking at the classes of problems, the mitigation strategies that were most effective at that particular facet of the problem, etc.

It might make you feel good about doing something, it's not necessarily going to clean up an oil spill, or prevent the next one from happening.

padraig said...

> And, dare I say it, ask (or
> demand!) that others act.

Asking, I've got no problem with. Demanding, you're going to have to back that up with more k-nowledge.

You can demand that second generation immigrants flatly reject the social norms of their home country and accept feminist ideals. I think that's a pretty bald demand.

You can demand that men reject the unjust social norms of modern day American society. I don't think this is fair either (even though I happen to agree with your particular sense of "unjust" and actually will argue with societal principles I find unjust).

If you're going to start crossing the line over into demand territory, you're going to have to give me some sort of framework for judging what sorts of problems demand what sorts of actions.

> Not *just* find people already
> acting and congratulate them
> in a recursive back patting
> exercise.

Okay, if it's not abundantly clear from the above that this is not at all what I'm suggesting, then I'm clearly not expressing myself in a manner that's constructive.

(Also, I think your characterization of such a strategy as "a recursive back patting exercise" might be more than a little insulting to those engaged in working on this problem).

This is not the first time I've gotten engaged in this sort of brouhaha, and I'm finding myself now stuck in the same scenario I've been stuck in before:

If I don't engage in the conversation, I'm part of the problem.

If I agree with you wholeheartedly, I'm being condescending.

If I disagree with you wholeheartedly, I'm sexist.

If I agree with you partially, but find the remainder of your position to be fuzzy, or in need of serious introspection, or not compelling, or not generalizable to your conclusion, I'm a "mansplainer" (whatever the hell that is), or I'm stupid, or disingenuous... or I can't relate, because I'm not a woman and thus don't have the same level of exposure to these issues as a woman does (the second half of this last bit, I'll absolutely grant is probably the case, but if the implication is I have to be a woman to have any sort of understanding, why the heck does anyone want me to be involved in the conversation in the first place?)

Perhaps more men don't participate in these sorts of discussions because they feel like they're going to walk into this sort proverbial goal-shifting minefield?

People will undoubtedly argue just the coward's way out (self included, which is why I'm here in the first place), but isn't that still a perfectly normal human reaction to getting rhetorically castigated no matter what you do?

ScientistMother said...

Padraig - you're being lazy and I don't have time to be educating you at this moment. And you're doing a bunch of double speak which is annoying me. This isn't comparing men with non-traditional roles to women with careers. It was about the fact that the perception is that work/life balance is a women's issue. At least we can agree its not. I've given you the links to researcher who have shown this to be true.

Either all the researches in gender studies, the harvard business review, zuska are morons. Or you're too lazy to learn about an issue before critiquing the statistical approach. So no there is not self-selected self-confirmation bias.

I also didn't randomly big a guy to point out. Go read the post I quoted DM from. He values the importance of the issue and the need for men to open about it. There may be reasons why he's not blogging about it. its his choice.

Becca's already made the point about how to advocate for change. so i'm leaving that.

I'm also done with this post. I have comps I need to be studying for. Comments are being closed. Yes I get the last word. Its my blog after all

ScientistMother said...

Padraig - I missed your last comments. You're engaging in critiquing the validity or reality of issues, you criticize the methods that individuals use to advocate for change, WITHOUT providing solutions. You need to go read Stephanie's Constructive Criticism.

As an awesome female postdoc once said to me. don't tell me the obstacles, tell the solutions.