Women in Physics


by 123PleasentSt
Tags: physics, women
Zarqon
Zarqon is offline
#37
Jan9-13, 03:28 AM
P: 217
Quote Quote by 123PleasentSt View Post
I've never really heard of any men personally who asked their work a few days off for a baby,
Just a small offtopic note first. In Sweden where I live, many men (in fact almost everyone of my male friends) take paternity leave. This is because out of the total pool of p/maternity days, some number of days can only be used by the father, so they might as well be take them, it's free time off so to speak.

More on topic, I agree that one of the major roadblocks for more women in physics is making the funding systems more forgiving to time off, but it's most likely not the whole story. One can just looked at the differences between science fields, for example between chemistry and physics, where the female ratio is different, but where the funding style is somewhat similar. The different ratios there probably have a lot to do with the fact that men and women simply have different interests (on average). With this in mind, for the women who are interested in physics, it should not (and probably is not) harder to do physics than any other science.
123PleasentSt
123PleasentSt is offline
#38
Jan9-13, 09:14 AM
P: 33
Thanks Zarqon. I'm wondering if it's better to be a working woman anywhere else than my own country, just by the leave differences alone. I can't say whether if different fields of science are harder on women, but I agree it shouldn't if the women have a true passion in their work...kids or not. I mean, having kids is going to make everything harder, but I can't see why a specific field over another for women if they added kids in.
123PleasentSt
123PleasentSt is offline
#39
Jan9-13, 09:19 AM
P: 33
For the non-US members who have already applied, is finding the right time to have kids a problem for women (or men)? Is egg freezing a hot topic in your countries? What do you think Is the average age that people start families?
Locrian
Locrian is offline
#40
Jan9-13, 10:09 AM
P: 1,696
Quote Quote by 123PleasentSt View Post
Thanks Zarqon. I'm wondering if it's better to be a working woman anywhere else than my own country, just by the leave differences alone.
To be a working woman? Doubt it.

To raise a family? Maybe in the very early years. There’s a lot more to being a parent than maternity/paternity leave. There are countries out there that make starting a family easier, but their young adult unemployment rates are much higher. Of course, that unemployment is demographically concentrated.

In any case, there are opportunities for the best of both worlds, both in the US and abroad. Lots of US companies have maternity and paternity leave. The one I work at now has both, and the majority of other companies I could work at have at least maternity leave as well.

There’s been threads similar to these before, with similar posters. I think the concerns about having a scientific career conflict with starting a family are valid, but I worry that generalizing the crappy treatment workers get in the sciences to the rest of the economy could lead to poor decision making.
123PleasentSt
123PleasentSt is offline
#41
Jan9-13, 10:29 AM
P: 33
Lots of US companies have maternity and paternity leave. The one I work at now has both, and the majority of other companies I could work at have at least maternity leave as well.
UK
[/QUOTE]

But is the leave paid?
Locrian
Locrian is offline
#42
Jan9-13, 10:46 AM
P: 1,696
Yes.
123PleasentSt
123PleasentSt is offline
#43
Jan9-13, 12:38 PM
P: 33
Quote Quote by Locrian View Post
Yes.
Awesome.
Rika
Rika is offline
#44
Jan9-13, 04:21 PM
P: 148
Quote Quote by 123PleasentSt View Post
For the non-US members who have already applied, is finding the right time to have kids a problem for women (or men)? Is egg freezing a hot topic in your countries? What do you think Is the average age that people start families?
In my country people starts families around being 30-35 years old. Egg freezing is non existent topic.
Locrian
Locrian is offline
#45
Jan9-13, 07:30 PM
P: 1,696
Quote Quote by Locrian View Post
Yes.
Sorry, this wasn't correct for all the companies I had in mind. A better response would have been "mostly". It didn't change my point of view much, but I don't like being wrong and making generalizations is a great way to be just that.

I'm not a woman, so you didn't ask my opinion, but I have a terrible habit of giving it anyways. Here's how I see things, given what you've said in this thread:

If you leave physics,

1) On the one hand, you may increase your chance of being a parent, which is for many (but not all) a truly amazing part of the human experience.

2) But on the other, you'll miss out on working for poverty level wages for 5 - 7 years getting your PhD and then near poverty level wages for 4 - 6 years in your postdoc before you maybe get your first full time job in physics that follows you home every night. Then you work brutal hours for a few years while you scramble for a tenure track job. And maybe you even get one!

Leaving physics: a win/win!

Full disclosure: I stopped at a Masters for exactly these kinds of reasons and am now a father with a job outside the field. I'm biased, and proud of it. Hopefully someone equally biased another direction will post as well.
123PleasentSt
123PleasentSt is offline
#46
Jan9-13, 08:12 PM
P: 33
Thanks for your advice, LocrIan. Obviously a PhD wasn't meant for you but congratulations on being a father. It is also stressed that the people who want to go into that stuff better have a serious passion for their work and tongue-In-cheek knowledge of what they want to put themselves through, in order to make the years of poverty worth it to them. We probably know some people who had extreme passion, determination, and dedication that were not willing to leave their interests because they were not makIng the money they would have lIke to make fast enough. If my uncle did do that, he wouldnt be a doctor today... he was seriously poor for a long time ... Different strokes. But I definitely agree on point 1... some people are not meant (and shouldn't) have and raise children. But there are people with their phd degrees and living happy careers as physicists, right ? And making a decent salary for themselves. So I guess it's the mind of the individual (with some luck on hand).
I'm not really sure if anyone is going to vehemently argue against you on your self-proclaImed extremely biased opinion, because you made a notice that your mind is already made up about this.
Locrian
Locrian is offline
#47
Jan9-13, 09:35 PM
P: 1,696
When I've run the numbers, the net present value of becoming a doctor (in the US) is very good. Much higher than physics.

The whole long poor road to getting a great job with a good paycheck doesn't seem to bother many people. But the long poor road to starting over seems to bother a lot of people.
123PleasentSt
123PleasentSt is offline
#48
Jan9-13, 10:01 PM
P: 33
You're right about the doctor, but I also was not implying at all that a physics degree has similar weight to a medical phd. I'm not sure if you knew where I was trying to go with that, but I think we can safely assume that everyone knows the general salary of a doctor - quite comfortable . I was trying to exemplify that people take poor roads anyways to get a great job. ObvIously, not everyone can get their dream job and true that people tend to be or sound bitter about it. But people still seem to eventually manage and find happiness sometime after being coerced to start over.
ParticleGrl
ParticleGrl is offline
#49
Jan9-13, 10:57 PM
P: 669
My sincere advice is as early as feasible, start thinking about what exactly you want. Is having a spouse and a family something you want? Or is career more important? Do you want to pick the city you live in? Do you want stability? How much more important is scientific/research work than engineering work?

Revisit these questions as you get older, and use them to guide your career choice. And seek mentors to have these sorts of discussions with face-to-face.
123PleasentSt
123PleasentSt is offline
#50
Jan10-13, 12:02 AM
P: 33
Thank you again ParticleGrl :), you have been some good help.
elkement
elkement is offline
#51
Jan10-13, 01:36 AM
P: 109
The most important lesson I learned was probably how much more it matters to me 'how I work' in contrast to 'the subject' I work on. Sounds trivial, but it took me many years to find out. Actually, I became aware of this when I turned down an offer to enter academia again after having spent years in IT already.
I second ParticleGrl - I would try to talk to mentors face-to-face, avoiding to learn anything on your own the hard way.

Once I thought I need to work in R&D / academia to 'do real physics', but later I discovered that I need to work as independently as possible. This ruled out both academia and being employed at (or being a long-term full-time contractor at) large corporations.
Now I am trying to combine both in a sense as a self-employed consulting engineer and it's important to me to share the consultancy business with my husband.

As Locrian, I am totally biased and this my personal preference only.


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