Thursday, September 1, 2011

Baby Talk vs Science Talk

So this weird thing has happened to me every since I had my supremely cute baby... no one asks me about my science anymore at work. Every time I run into the department chair (who is a woman) or other professors everyone asks me out the mini-me is, how motherhood is going, etc.

It is not that I mind talking about the mini-me or making small talk but before this when I ran into other people in the department we would talk science. How is your project going, that sort of thing. Which was actually helpful in that sometimes people would have solutions to issues I was having. But also it kept me on the radar of some pretty important PIs who could be useful in the future.

I am worried that they know think of me as a mom first and a scientist second. Am I just being paranoid? Most everyone that asks me about the baby has children and families themselves and in general the campus and my department are very family-friendly. I have yet to run into the overt sexism that I encountered during my PhD program (which is good).

But still, I can't help but feel like my science is get the shaft a little bit. I mean how else can I let them know about some super cool technique I invented or how wonderfully my undergraduate mentee did during his presentation. I am an extroverted person, I have mad people skills, and lots of people know who I am which is great, but I also want them to know that I am doing good science. This kind of positive word of mouth has served me well in the past and I don't want to lose it now. I present at a seminar series once a year but that really doesn't seem enough. I haven't come  up with a good way of switching topics from parenthood to science in a two minute conversation yet.

Has anyone else run into this? How do you deal with it? Am I making too big a deal about it?


  1. Your baby will lose its new baby smell soon enough and people will stop asking. This was a really tough time for me because I felt like I had lost my identity. Like my one purpose in life was "the baby." My husband even jokingly called us "Daddy and The Food." But, it does get better and people lose their interest. Then, the next thing you know, you're sending them off to kindergarten.

  2. Thanks Dr. Isis I appreciate the perspective and will be more patient waiting for the new baby smell to fade.

  3. You can also tell them to fuck off. That is an equally valid response.