I went to the gym today at my university and while I was running on a treadmill, I looked around. Keep in mind I was in the “cardio” section, so all of my observing is slightly biased.
There was the normal assortment of undergrads (male and female of course). There were also a few grad students and a few post-docs (or what I’m guessing/hoping were post-docs). These were female. There were also a couple other younger professors – also female. And there were a few older professors there with their spouses – these were male, but it looked like they were there more by force than by choice.
I’m only detailing this list to make one point – it is more important to stay in shape as a female than as male (there have been studies on this published in multiple places – NY Times, Science, etc). And yet it is also harder to prove yourself in science as a female than as a male. So this makes it doubly difficult. As a female in science, you both have to look perfect and be scientifically flawless, whereas the rules are a little more flexible for males.
Maybe I’m only seeing this side of the coin because I’m on it, but it would be really nice to be able to have a “pot-belly” and be considered “dignified” instead of “potentially pregnant” or “lazy”. Not that I want to “let myself go”, but I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to continue to be able to wake up at 5am to run, so I can commute 1hr to work and get there by 8am, put in a 12hr day (like my male colleagues), get home by 9pm and go to bed. It just doesn’t leave much time for anything else. Not that cutting out the run would help much – but it would free up 1hr a day I could spend with my husband.