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ACM Opinion

Where Are All the Working Mothers in STEM?


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mother and baby in an office

Credit: Getty Images

The greatest challenge in the life of a mother-scientist, almost without exception, lies in refining the balance between the two rewarding roles. It takes effort and adjustment, not to mention compromise and sacrifice. It's not about "having it all"—which, in my opinion, is an unhealthy, unhelpful expectation—nor is it about being one thing more than the other. My passion lies in my field, and my pride in my children.

Unfortunately, parenthood is a key driver of gender imbalance in STEM—almost half of all women in full-time science jobs leave or go part-time after the birth of their first child. This is twice the number of men, according to the results of a recent 8-year-long study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While my personal and professional journeys have not developed without considerable challenges along the way, these encounters have only taught me valuable lessons in balance, perseverance and purpose:

  • Lesson 1: Understand What Drives You
  • Lesson 2: When In Doubt, Lean On Your Network
  • Lesson 3: Look for Balance Wherever You Can

From Scientific American
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