Professor Dr. Trisha N. Davis teaches biochemistry at the University of Washington. In 2008 and 2009, she was a Humboldt Research Award Winner at the Technische Universität Dresden and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, also in Dresden. Trisha Davis has two children.
Cover Story: Careers with Obstacles - Women in Academia
Heroes Don't Have a Family
Trisha N. Davis, Biologist, USA
There are initiatives and offers to promote equal opportunities in the USA, but the problem still remains that women are a minority in senior faculty positions in science. I think the issue may be the culture of science. We are not friendly to those who have responsibilities outside of science, be it looking after children, elderly parents, or even social engagement in general. Therefore all scientists with families have a disadvantage. We (in the USA at least) hold up as heroes people who sacrifice everything for science. Although many women end up taking the major responsibility for their family, my husband did his share and more.
I was at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, and I did not see a difference except that there is less pressure there on women, because they did not have as many responsibilities as I do at a state university in the US. Still their lives were not easy. Scientists’ lives in Germany and in the USA are hard. However, the lifestyle in Germany seems to value time with family and friends much more than here. My advice to young women would be: Have a partner who shares your dreams. And to all (also to men): Follow your passion.
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