Letter: Positive discrimination is unfair (3)

November 9, 2001

Women in science who do not have children are more vociferous than those who do, it appears ("Science and the family don't mix", THES , October 12). But in physics, a majority of the women who hold chairs also have children.

This does not mean to say that it is easy for women to combine motherhood with a scientific career. Most women in academia delay starting a family until they have a permanent post or have taken minimum leave (usually unpaid) as a research fellow. A minority have re-entered academic life after a career break. It is likely that the pool of talent available from our highly trained women will be fully utilised only when this last career path becomes more accepted.

Gillian Gehring
Department of physics and astronomy
University of Sheffield

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