DrDGT's PI is moving his labspace within his university - the lab just moved from one building to another, and they're moving again this fall. His PI had a discussion last week with the rest of the lab about blueprints & lab rooms. Evidently, his PI told the lab that one of the rooms they were promised - a room meant for some delicate equipment - is going to be used for his kids. Yeah. Seriously. His PI's wife told him that she thinks it would be "best" if he dedicated a whole room in his lab to his kids, such that when they hang out there after school a few days a week, they have their very own room in which to reside.Reader, how do you react to that idea?
WHAT?? This is wrong on so many levels. First off, that a spouse could dictate to their faculty member spouse how to allocate space in their lab is fucked up - unless you're the Jans or something, this seems beyond the pale. Second, it is wholly inappropriate for a faculty to cordon off lab space for their own child care purposes. The university is not granting him space for his kids have a place to color three times a week; he's getting space to run a lab. Lastly, you're making it perfectly clear to everyone who trains under you that you are not committed to getting them the best lab space that you can - now this delicate (and might I add fucking expensive) equipment is going to be stuck out on a bench somewhere, getting dusty, abused by other labs, etc etc.
I was utterly floored when DrDGT told me. Can faculty do this? 'Cause, shit, if that's possible then I want DrDGT's lab to have a foosball room with a keg in it.
I don't think she or any of her commenters realize just what they are demonstrating: they ARE BEING the people whose first impression of a scientist having their family around is inappropriate.
If the PI was a woman, would they/you feel differently? A single mom without access to a good daycare? If the children were younger, still dependent for food and naps on their mom and dad? Why should the school-age children of a father have any different set of circumstances available to them? Why can't every scientist with kids have something like this available to them? Why does across-campus or far-away daycare access factor into this, when dumping your kids off in the care of someone else does not solve the problem of the struggle to balance family/work?
Having a room to set aside for your family is EXACTLY what would make science work for parents. Sometimes day care just doesn't cut it: you want to be near your children, available to them if they want to spend physical or emotional time with you. But you need them to not be right in your office, or they constantly distract you from the work you are trying to get done. This situation sounds perfect as a way to help balance family and science, and every institution should try to offer this to their PIs.
I'm sad that it provoked such outrage from the people who want to be understanding and inclusive, and I hope you guys will realize that this is a perceptual prejudice, and by holding fast to that reaction you are being the people that you think of as the enemy.
Frankly, lab member "inconvenience" regarding a piece of equipment or some yards of bench space should not trump support for scientists with families. We will only move forward and increase representation of women when this kind of thing is less appalling to everyone.