Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Family-friendly grad school?

Princeton is taking a surprising new approach towards helping women in graduate programs with the struggles of having or not having children in grad school. Princeton's new intiative would offer money and time allowing grad students to have more child-rearing options while in school.

I find it interesting that Princeton would see this as a critical matter, because not all schools even consider parenthood in the equation. For the first semester I was in my doctoral program, my colleagues did not even know that I had children. Not that I was ashamed of them, but it was obvious that my professors would think differently of me if they knew I had children. One professor (a married woman with no children) even spent time during class complaining about her sister who had children and what a loser-ish life this sister led. Once my colleagues did find out about my children, they began to think of me more as a mother and less as their fellow student.

The numbers of female professors who have children (or more than 1 child) are few. I waited until my youngest was in 1st grade to go back to school. I had been considering it since my oldest was born in 1994, but realized that I would be short-changing my children by going to school while they were young. It hasn't been easy even at their ages--9 and 12--but at least they are more self-sufficient now.

Maybe if other schools follow Princeton's lead, there will be more female professors--period. That alone would make graduate school much more hospitable.

3 Comments:

Blogger AndreaB_212 said...

Another choice for women with families that is becoming more and more widely acceptable is taking classes via online graduate programs. Online education can provide Moms (& Dads) the opportunity to further their education without taking time away from their children. If there is anyone out there who was afraid to go back to school because of their kids, this is definitely a useful option to look into!

~A

11:31 AM  
Blogger karen said...

Andrea,
thanks for the reminder. My brother is going back to undergraduate school via Phoenix online and it works for him while raising three girls.

12:28 PM  
Blogger AndreaB_212 said...

No problem, just trying to help :-)

I have a few friends that never went to college after high school or that dropped out of college. Now they're trying to go back to school but are finding it difficult because they have steady jobs. I tried pointing them in to online education and it's really helped the ones who were serious about going back to school!

I think I might take some online classes, maybe a language or something, just to keep my brain occupied! :-)

~A

7:10 AM  

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