Science and Family

Having written about Nature vs Nurture: Women & STEM, and getting some feedback from friends and other readers, I have continued to be intrigued about this topic of women working in the field of science.

And I'm not the only one. Here's a list of articles that give more insight into this topic:
  • Women's Quest for Romance Conflicts with Scientific Pursuits.  A woman's pursuit of romantic goals may be due to environmental cues, innate design, or personal choice. But in any case, the more she she wants to be romantically desirable, the less likely she is to show an interest in math.
  • Many Top U.S. Scientists Wish They Had More Children.  Interestingly, while more top female scientists wanted to have more children, the life satisfaction of the male scientists was more significantly affected.
  • Women Aren't Becoming Engineers Because of Confidence Issues.  According to this study, it's not that women don't become (or leave) engineering because of wanting to start a family. It's more related to the confidence they feel. While we can't pinpoint where that lack of confidence comes from (nature vs nurture plays a role, I'm sure), one thing that may help is bringing practicing engineers into college classrooms to share their experiences.
  • Nature and Nurture Work Together to Shape the Brain.  Now here's a theory I can get behind. Who we are (and who we become) is more than our DNA, and it's more than our environment. "Our genes and environment work together to influence brain development throughout a lifetime."

When it comes to decisions about life, career, and family, there so many factors involved. But ultimately, it's about choices. And once those choices are made, you never get to rewind the clock. You pray, seek counsel, and make the best decision you can.

This was the case with me. In 1999, as I was getting my Master's degree in chemistry, I turned down an opportunity to pursue my PhD. I thought that was the best choice, and felt at peace about it.

But that I made the right choice was confirmed one Saturday morning in the spring 2004. I suddenly hit me that if I had gone for my PhD, I would just around then (at the earliest) be finishing my degree. While Joanna and I would probably still have gotten married, I knew that my life would have looked significantly different.

I looked at my life at that point, with my wife of 4.5 years and my two great kids, and I knew that I made the right choice.

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image courtesy of LindsayT via flickr

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