Another week has passed

Snow, rain and wind on Tuesday morning and today it is warm and sunny and feels like summer! People sit everywhere in outdoor cafés and enjoy this gorgeous weather. In Les Eyzies, where I am going tomorrow, temperatures are even higher and will be so all of next week.
This week has been incredible busy. Francesco, a new MSc student started and needed help to sample his sediment core. Kruawun, a guest researcher from Chulalongkorn University arrived and will stay with us for a month. She is working on tsunami deposits in Thailand and we will discuss a joint future project.
This week also saw how democracy works, but so little is being discussed about it. Why was it not possible to capture the worst terrorist of all, bin Laden alive? Why was it necessary to also kill his wife or son? Is this how we treat our worst enemies, and claim at the same time that we in the west are democratic countries and citizens? Or does the war on terrorism allow undemocratic moves? Why are these issues not being discussed more? Do we not care, or are we afraid of raising these questions?

I also had some interesting discussions with young female scientists this week regarding women and science and the problems that many young women encounter. One really crucial point actually is, how the partner at home shares his time. Is he really doing equally much housework? Is he really equally contributing to childcare? Or, is his work so much more important that he does not really have time for this? Does he find loads of excuses to rather clean the car, but not the toilets? Does he take equal responsibility? Statistics Sweden tells us an interesting story: women work equally much for paid and unpaid work, while men work double as much for paid work as compared to unpaid work! During one week, women work about 28 hours unpaid, while men only work 20 hours. This clearly shows that men spend more time with their job and women more time with home and children. Of course these numbers vary depending on age and situation, but they still tell the story!
I think the stress that many young women in science feel is equally much related to the time they spent at their job and the demands that exist there, and to the stress they have at home, cleaning, cooking, taking care of the kids, and many other things. They still have the demands on them of being perfect in everything they do. Although men have become much more engaged in household issues and childcare, they have much less of these social demands on them, as compared to women. Who cares if they don’t clean so properly? Who cares if they don’t cook food? In addition, the recent backlash, which makes motherhood such a big thing again, will certainly contribute to increase the stress and feeling of women of not being good enough!
It is difficult to produce a large number of publications each year, when you also have to do most of the household work, when you feel that you are not a good enough mother for your kids, when you have to stay home each time your kids are sick and when your partner thinks that his stuff is so much more important than yours. Add on that all the demands from your mother, your mother in law and society, and you are close to a breakdown. I really had thought that things would have changed during the past 30 years. But they have only changed very little, and it is sad to see that many young women still battle with the same issues. Had I not had cleaning help during all these years, I don’t know how I would have managed ….

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