I don’t know why I’m currently obsessed with women choosing “substantive” science or engineering careers, but I am. My disappointment in the articles I’m finding is the repetitive, defeatist content: 1. The “problem” of being married and having a family is considered to be front and center a “negative” – an almost insurmountable hurdle in fact, with insincere and non-helpful “solutions” that require the entire overthrow of society as we know it. 2. It’s all about money: Whatever happened to “work and career” fulfilling personal aspirations? 3. It’s nearly impossible to reach the top of one’s field, anyway, so, why bother? This drives me nuts!
It’s the neurotypical, “Only the top 1 % counts” syndrome! How many people get to be Pharaoh? ONE.
What about the other 7 billion humans living on the planet? What about picking a reasonable goal, like: I can support myself; do satisfying work and make choices about what I really want my day-to-day experiences to do for me. And then, the concrete analysis of just how to make that happen. We never teach our children how to be happy in ways that suit their abilities, desires and personalities.
“You can be anything you can DREAM. DREAM, DREAM, DREAM.”
No, you can’t. Especially if the society that is indoctrinating you with impossible standards is at the same time engineering your failure.
Here’s a hard core economic perspective on women (and men) in academia and top professions. Much more analysis at: http://philip.greenspun.com/careers/women-in-science
Science versus collecting child support
Speaking of fertility… A $400/hour divorce litigator said “Knowing what I know now, I could have made a lot more money going to a bar and working for one night than I have made by going to college, law school, and working for 20 years. It turns out that I was sitting on something worth a lot more than a law degree.” What’s the cash value of fertility compared to working in science?
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the 2012 median pay of “Biochemists and Biophysicists” as $81,480 per year (source) and the “entry-level education” required as a “Doctoral or professional degree”. After taxes, that’s $56,666 for a single Massachusetts resident according to the ADP Paycheck Calculator.
As explained in the Massachusetts chapter of Real World Divorce, child support can be collected until a child turns 23, and, as in all other states, is tax-free. How profitable is child support? By formula (2013-2017 guidelines), $40,000 per year can be obtained from a defendant earning $250,000 per year. However, the actual costs of a child can be collected on top of that $40,000, such as health insurance, day care or nanny, and a child’s cash expenses. Subtracting the USDA-estimated $8000 per year incidental costs of a child, such as housing and food, each child yields only a $32,000 per year profit. Thus a woman would need to have two children in Massachusetts with $250,000-per-year defendants in order to exceed the after-tax personal spending power of a mid-career PhD biochemist. However, the present value of the child support plaintiff’s earnings are larger because the income stream can start at age 18 or younger and does not require any investment in college or graduate school.
[Note that if a wealthier defendant can be found, ownership of a child can yield substantially more than $40,000 per year in tax-free dividends. Child support awards of $100,000 per year are not uncommon in a variety of jurisdictions nationwide.]
A divorce litigator put it a little more simply: “There is no reason for a woman to go to medical school. If she wants to have the spending power of a doctor she can just have sex with three doctors.” (see the Wisconsin chapter for how the arithmetic works out) In some states, though not Wisconsin, a plaintiff’s own earnings or earning potential can reduce the potential profits from child support. “A degree in poetry is a lot better than a degree in medicine when you’re a child support plaintiff,” observed one litigator, and added “for a woman with a functioning reproductive system, the decision to attend college and work is seldom an economically rational one in the United States.”
More on this way of earning a living: (The Celebrity Model, aka The “Real” Hollywood Career)