Mama PhD

Mama PhD

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

October 9, 2009 - 12:38am
This one week when I was ahead of myself and wrote my entry early in the week, and, what do you know, I find myself changing it at the last minute. I was so intrigued by Dana Campbell’s column yesterday talking about what may be the truth behind the idea of well-educated women “opting out” of high-pressure jobs in order to parent that I wanted to write some thoughts in reply to it. She did a great job of summarizing the discussion that started in the Washington Post last week, and went on to suggest some thoughts of her own.
October 8, 2009 - 9:33am
Temperatures are on the rise as funds are sinking fast for college tuition.
October 7, 2009 - 8:42am
An article in the Washington Post last week stirred up the old “Opt-out” argument of Lisa Belkin by bringing in recent census statistics to investigate patterns of at-home parenting.
October 5, 2009 - 9:36pm
I've been going to a lot more meetings this year than I've done in years past — it's a mark of my current position chairing our new First Year Seminar program. There are, it seems, endless meetings on the way to establishing a new academic program: I go from committee meeting to faculty meeting to student interview and back again, usually carrying not only the materials I need to consult in the meeting but also the book I'm about to teach — or have just taught.
October 4, 2009 - 7:59pm
I thought all of the responses to last week’s post were terrific. Differential treatment can be hard to talk about, but several readers managed to write eloquently about their impressions and experiences. All provided food for thought, but I was particularly struck by “Long Distance Mom”’s observation: “After serving as a department chair at two universities, I learned that the "Speak low and slowly, but smile frequently" advice is often a double bind. Faculty, both male and female, seem surprised by critical evaluations from female administrators. Freudian 'mother' issues aside ...
October 1, 2009 - 8:29pm
Ok, so I admit it. I am not a good cook, and, on top of it, I spend a lot of time driving my daughter around to various lessons and even doctor’s appointments. Although I know better, the other day I drove through McDonald’s in an effort to get something resembling dinner in her. I have done the calculations of what the best deal was in order to feed her, and have decided that, at this point in her life, the Happy Meal offered the right size portions for the best price, with options not available otherwise.
September 30, 2009 - 9:29pm
This week I’m teaching Frankenstein in a lower-level women’s literature course. Among the host of meaty issues, we discuss the ways that Mary Shelley’s novel critiques the male scientist’s obsessive and isolating pursuit of knowledge at the expense of family/romantic/community ties. At the novel’s end, Victor Frankenstein counsels the explorer, Captain Walton, to “seek happiness in tranquility, and avoid ambition.”
September 30, 2009 - 8:25am
A radio interview I heard yesterday completely derailed the blog theme I’d planned for this week (I’ll have to save the sex topic for next time). Let’s just say I’ve become a little obsessed with obsessiveness since hearing the program. The interview (from CBC radio’s “The Current”) was titled “Obsessive Work” and featured an ornithologist named Glen Chilton who’s just published a book about his 15 year obsession with tracking down every stuffed specimen of the extinct Labrador duck.
September 28, 2009 - 10:45pm
Once a week or so I leave my house in the morning at the usual time, bag packed, computer stowed—but instead of heading straight to my office I go elsewhere. Specifically, I head to a very public, chain bookstore café — one with free wifi — where I order a cup of coffee, plug in my laptop, and work for a few hours before heading in to my office. The place is hardly welcoming. It’s the opposite of “Cheers,” where “everybody knows your name” — in fact, that’s part of its appeal. I am anonymous here, and I relish the anonymity.
September 27, 2009 - 8:43pm
In a recent article in The Chronicle , Mary Ann Mason discusses ways the deck is stacked against ambitious women. The entire article is worth reading, but this passage, in particular, evoked strong memories and mixed feelings:

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