Balancing family and a career is a challenge for many female faculty members. Child-bearing comes at a time when scientific careers are in an upward trajectory. As a leading research institution most of our Geographical Sciences projects have a strong international component with active overseas partnerships. Coordinating and running international meetings is integral to the leadership that our Department is renowned for. So the practical question is how do our female faculty with young children that are breastfeeding manage in that role?
Showing outstanding commitment to their work, three of our female Research Faculty members overcame that obstacle and ran a series of three international meetings over a one week period, at the Joint Research Center of the European Commission, Ispra, Italy (April 16-20th). Thanks to supportive spouses and in-laws, Inbal Becker Reshef, Alyssa Whitrcraft and Catherine Nakalembe were able to bring their children and run the meetings. Attendees were impressed that they would do this and at least one young mother attending from Europe asked how they managed to do this. Unfortunately the answer was that they voluntarily, paid out of pocket to make this happen.
As more women take senior positions in science and our University, we may see a time when funds are set aside to cover expenses for critical temporary dependent care or the provision of crèche facilities during international meetings. Although we are making steps in the right direction at the University in the area of gender equity, we still have a way to go. In the meantime fearless, female faculty from Maryland Geographical Sciences will continue to push the envelope and show their commitment to their work and that where is the will there is a way.
We are at work (From left to right Catherine Nakalembe (Alec and Max), Inbal Becker-Reshef (Edith and Nathalie), Alyssa Whitcraft (Clark) attending the CEOS Workshop on Observations for Agricultural Monitoring, the GEOGLAM ExCom Meeting and the EOFSAC Partners Workshop at the EC JRC Ispra.