>>>> Women have different issues than other groups - even stuff like when you
>>>> have a kid and take a year off, how do you keep up on your mad
>>>> programming skillz? Or program with pregnancy-brain?
> I'll grant you pregnancy-brain is probably only found in women, but
> some men take a year (or more) off to look after a kid and issues
> around that are not unique to women. It's actually pretty
> disappointing anyone would suggest that only women take child-related
> career breaks nowadays, but I guess this is a global group.
I am another person who doesn't weigh in on threads like this often, but
I think this bears some comment, and as someone not involved in the main
strand of discussion, I feel like I can address this as a sidebar
without derailing the whole conversation. I do have a point, bear with me.
This false equivalency gets bandied around quite a lot in academic
circles (maybe elsewhere, but I lead a sheltered life). Let me assure
you that there is a significant difference between what goes on in a
standard pat leave and what goes on in a standard mat leave. Let us not
forget that the entire process usually kicks off with a fully formed
being being removed from the mother's body, either through a bodily
orifice, or surgically. Either way, it's the mother who has to deal with
the *very real* medical consequences of this miraculous yet historically
very deadly event. Quite often, the first part of a mat leave is spent
just recovering from same. Then of course, there is the fact that you
have this new life form who pretty much needs to be held by you in order
to live. In a plurality of cases, this means also being a walking food
dispenser, but in any case it means close, constant supervision and lots
of body contact.
I'm not arguing that there aren't many dads who do a great job of child
rearing, but in your average, everyday, heteronormative context, this by
default falls to the woman. Bringing it back to the academic context,
it's not rare at all to see dads on pat leave back in the office working
at (sometimes, but not always) reduced capacity, sometimes from day two
or three. I have rarely if ever seen women on mat leave come into the
office; they are busy dealing with all the issues above, which mat leave
was invented to help deal with in the first place.
I will not even get into the dynamics of "missing years" in CVs and
their implications for women who take mat leaves. Suffice to say, this
is a real problem in the academic world, and tenure committees seem to
have this weird blind spot around mat leaves.
So to my point: why am I bringing this up in this thread? Because when a
topic like this comes up in general communities, it often has to be
explained, just like this. For the marginal participant in a community,
who might or might not start a discussion around these topics, how much
less likely would they be to do so if they knew they were going to have
to explain the particulars of why pregnancy and maternity are hard for
professionals in our society? I can almost guarantee you this is already
top of mind -- said participant probably does not want to have to
unravel this whole messy skein of social and biological implications in
an email thread with 3500 people. But they might be willing to ask their
questions in a group that shares a common understanding of the issues
and can talk about them without having to justify themselves or start
from first principles. In a way, it's a lot like the reason a community
like code4lib (or any other community) exists in the first place.
Otherwise, we could just discuss everything on AllLibrariansEver-L.
Anyway, I hope you don't feel like people are piling on, MJ. I think
it's a token of respect that every member of the code4lib community has
for each other that folks *are* making the effort to understand and be
Needless to say, I support wholeheartedly the idea of libtechwomen or
any other venue -- if there are folks who feel it is needed, then that
needs to be respected.
Digital Preservation Librarian
Ontario Council of University Libraries
[log in to unmask]
"Fearlessness is better than a faint heart for any man who puts his nose
out of doors. The length of my life and the day of my death were fated
long ago." --Skírnismál