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Re: Why the Widening Gender Gap in Computer Science?

Hi all

Anne Rogers wrote @ 27/11/08 09:19:
>> I do reckon that by this time next year, when I'll have hopefully
>> gotten the
>> hang of the whole "baby" thing, I'll be so desperate to be doing more
>> intellectually stimulating stuff (I'll be missing my physics) that
>> I'll be
>> making the time to do a little Debian work and a little research (most
>> of my
>> research is theory and can be done with only a computer - makes it
>> easier than
>> if I needed access to a lab), in between nappies and feeding and baby
>> games and
>> so forth.
> Maybe I'm not typical, but looking around my female friends I think I
> probably am. Whilst pregnant with my first I felt the same way you do, I
> fully intended to get back into things, probably part time, but it was
> definitely my intention to do that. I took a part time job as a research
> assistant when he was about 6 months old and found very rapidly that you
> don't accomplish 50% of the work in 50% of the time, which is quite a
> disatisfactory situation. I ended up handing in my notice and deciding
> to try for another baby, but it wasn't really the next baby that changed
> things, more oh, I've decided this isn't working, we might as well do
> that now rather than wait.

I work in science and know a few fellow scientists who got pregnant in
the last years. With most of them it went pretty much like Anne
describes. They had rather ambitious goals but in the end found
themselves using the spare time they had for other things like sleep,
showers, and getting household things done. Most of them also complained
about simply lacking the energy to follow the plan they'd initially
resolved to follow.

Another thing I've observed is that working part-time is often a
difficult situation that is very much dependent on understanding
colleagues. If there's one in the team who always leaving at 15:00 while
all others keep on working this can easily provoke bad feelings. Never
mind that this person does not only work half time but also earn half
the money, never mind that (s)he might even start earlier than the
others. never mind that s(he) is not going home to lie on the couch but
pick up n kids from daycare and take care of them for the rest of the
day. What *is* noticed is that s(he) leaves, while everybody else is
still busily working. The danger that this results in bad feelings at
some point -- intended or not! -- is quite high. And I've heard my
part-time working friends complain a lot about this. Also because they
always feel a bit guilty when leaving, even though they really
shouldn't, and this makes even harmless remarks like "Have a nice
evening" sting a little.

I've also seen and heard of examples where working part-time worked
beautifully but I've found that this is mostly in fields where part-time
working mothers or fathers are a common trait and people are used to it.
In fields where this is not so common (like CS/IT) there tend to be a
lot more problems, simply because people are not used to the model. So I
hope things will improve once the concept of a part-time working parents
has become a bit more known in IT/CS jobs as well. (Considering the
decreasing women ratio in CS I am being a bit optimistic here, but maybe
this could also come from more fathers working part time because they
want to take a bigger part in their kids upbringing. Who knows?)

Best regards,

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