A different kind of project

I’ll be stepping back from my monthly updates a bit as I prepare to go on maternity leave next week. It’s exciting, terrifying & overwhelming, and I understand it will change the life of me and my partner forever. Bubba is due in just over two weeks!

This is what a scientist looks like (8 months pregnant).

I’m all too painfully aware of what the statistics say and how the penalty of motherhood continues to impact women disproportionately compared to their male counterparts (fathers get promoted, while women are pushed out via the #leakypipeline).

Figure 1. Academic profiles by gender; natural and physical sciences 2007.
Source: DEEWR Selected Higher Education Student Statistics 2007; Department of Education,
Science and Training, Special Report, FTE Staff in AOU Groups, 2007.

Even today, it was confronting to look around and struggle to find role models who had become mothers and managed to succeed to senior levels in STEM #WomeninSTEM (although I’m inspired by the few exceptions I do see).

I did also manage to be #PregnantInTheField relatively early on. Very doable (with a few extra toilet breaks and early nights to bed, and some extra loose pants!) I did miss being able to enjoy a glass or two of red by the campfire at the end of the day, however.

Dr Clement, pregnant in the field, holding a fossil find.

I am really hopeful that things continue to improve and that my career isn’t too negatively impacted by choosing to have children. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what is the point of all the initiatives to encourage girls into STEM if we don’t retain women in STEM?