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Welcome to the real world, Chicago.

Doing it all
As a recent Biological Sciences Division graduate, I enjoy reading profiles of other women in science to learn how their careers developed. However, I became quite outraged while reading “Full Speed Ahead” (February/04) about Dr. Lynn Margulis, AB’57. Dr. Margulis is quoted as saying, “It’s not humanly possible to be a good wife, a good mother, and a first-class scientist. No one can do it—something has to go.” This type of thinking from a woman who has reached a position of power in academic biology is irresponsible and appalling.

This stereotyping is exactly what leads to the so-called “leaky pipeline” phenomenon of women in the sciences. While many women begin training for careers in science, very few make it to careers as independent academic scientists. Through subtle (and not so subtle) differences in the way women and men are mentored and supported, especially after a woman decides to start a family, women face an uphill battle in achieving their career goals. Many potential mentors assume that a woman is not serious about her career and is unlikely to be successful after marrying or having children, and publishing this type of quotation only reinforces these biases. I can’t imagine the fallout if a man had publicly made a comment like this, as it is clearly sexist, and there should be no less of a response when a woman expresses these views.

I know many women, several current BSD faculty are prime examples, who successfully balance their personal lives and academic careers. It is the responsibility of all faculty to lower barriers, improve opportunities, and encourage and support both men and women striving to be excellent in all aspects of their lives. As I begin my career in academics, I know that I will be working hard every day to prove Dr. Margulis wrong.

Dawn Belt Davis, PhD’01, MD’03

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