Elaine Westwick at The Stuff of Life says that contrary to popular thought, women who take time away from their research careers to raise children could actually be a good thing for science. In a recent People & Science article, Westwick argues that maternity leave offers female scientists an "intellectual holiday" that could, in fact, allow them to be "more open to novel ideas and less sullied by the scientific status quo." "Too often science is done in a rush," she adds, and time away from the bench may afford women the chance to adopt broader perspectives. Female scientists who opt to take time off to raise children also play a "role in bringing up scientifically aware offspring," Westwick says, adding that in science, "highly qualified women slip guiltily off the career track," whereas the community should instead "applaud those engaging with the ordinary, whether it is bringing scientific facts to … expounding evidence-based thinking in non-scientific pursuits," or otherwise sharing their talents outside of the lab.
Maternity Leave as an 'Intellectual Holiday'
Jan 12, 2011