book cover



Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory: Women Scientists Speak Out

Emily Monosson, Editor

About half of the undergraduates and roughly 40 percent of graduate degree recipients in science and engineering are women. As increasing numbers of these women pursue research careers in science, many who choose to have children discover the unique difficulties of balancing a professional life in these highly competitive (and often male dominated) fields with the demands of motherhood. ….

The personal stories that comprise Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory not only show the many ways in which women can successfully combine motherhood and a career in science but also address and redefine what it means to be a successful scientist….

Advance Praise for Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory:

“At last-a book to convince women scientists that there is life beyond the professoriate. These brief life stories demonstrate that women professionals do not have to play by men’s rules to have a career. They also show the world that women scientists are not only
literate but also witty.”
Phoebe Leboy, University of Pennsylvania, President, Association for Women in Science

Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory is an engaging, moving, and informative book. It depicts the challenge of combining a career in science with motherhood, using the voices of real women to prortray the diversity of possible experiences.”

Jo Handlesman, Howard Hughs Medical Institute Professor and Chair, Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“The stories in Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory are captivating and the picture of science as a field was truly sobering. I found myself thinking about the authors’ fascinating stories long after I finished reading this book.”

Joan C. Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California Hastings College of the Law


A. Pia Abola, San Francisco, California

Caroline (Cal) Baier-Anderson, University of Maryland, Baltimore; Environmental Defense

Joan S. Baizer, University at Buffalo

Stefi Baum, Rochester Institute of Technology

Aviva Brecher, US Department of Transportation, Volpe Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Teresa Capone Cook, American Heritage Academy

Carol B. de Wet, Franklin & Marshall College

Kimberly D’Anna, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Anne Douglass, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Elizabeth Douglass, Scripps Institute of Oceanography

Katherine Douglass, George Washington University

Deborah Duffy, University of Pennsylvania

Rebecca A. Efroymson, U.S. government research laboratory

Suzanne Epstein, Food and Drug Administration

Kim M. Fowler, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Debra Hanneman, Whitehall Geogroup, Inc. and

Deborah Harris, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia, Illinois

Andrea L. Kalfoglou, University of Maryland

Marla S. McIntosh, University of Maryland

Marilyn Wilkey Merritt, George Washington University

Emily Monosson, Montague, Massachusetts

Heidi Newberg, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rachel Obbard, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, England

Catherine O’Riordan, Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Nanette J. Pazdernik, O’Fallon, Illinois

Devin Reese, National Science Resources Center

Marie Remiker (pseudonym)

Deborah Ross, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne

Christine Seroogy, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Marguerite Toscano, Smithsonian Institution

Gina D. Wesley-Hunt, Montgomery College

Theresa M. Wizemann, Merck & Co., Inc.

Sofia Refetoff Zahed, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Gayle Barbin Zydlewski, Cove Brook Watershed Council, Maine; University of Maine

For more, click below for the complete
Cornell Catalog description.


13 Responses to “Motherhood, the Elephant (the book)”

  1. 1 Andrea Kalfoglou June 12, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    This was such a fabulous project. I am honored to have been a part of it, and am so thrilled with the result that I bought 10 copies of the book to share with my colleagues and friends.

    Andrea Kalfoglou

  2. 2 Julie Schwedock September 27, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    What a wonderful idea for a book! I also want to say hello to Pia Abola, whom I met briefly while she was pregnant. Great to see you as a contributor to this book Pia.

    I’ve got 2 kids, and currently work in biotech. I have fully lived the juggling of the sick kids and the midnight experiments. Now that they are older, life is a little easier. Though things were tough at times, I am so glad to have them in my life.

  3. 3 red high heel shoes June 14, 2009 at 9:55 am

    YAA Adding this to my bookmarks. Thank You

  4. 4 gumgirl August 17, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    What a classic picture on the cover. It reminds me when I was finishing my Masters degree in Biology, how I would have my 12 month old on one hip, and my multi-channel pippet in the other. I too had to take maternity leave and stop my research for my degree. I had to take my daughter to the lab several times, giving her plastic tubes, and entertaining her with blown up blue gloves. Eventhough those were very difficult times, I treasure the memory for its insane duality. Super momma in the lab, conducting important research whilst toddler toddles around the lab. “I can do it all” I thought. Well now 3 years later and a new baby boy, I realize I cannot do it all, and being back at work, I am torn. Wishing I was home with my children. “Why am I here”, I find myself asking? Everyone I talk to says I would be crazy to quit my job, in such a horrible economic time, I make good money and hours are flexible. They dont understand the deep inner pain I feel, the longing to hold my babies throughout the day, it is too the point to be distracting. Thank you oh Thank you for writing this book, I am going to read it as soon as I can get my hands on it. I know I am not alone in this science mommy thing, but I feel it sometimes.

  5. 5 Emily August 18, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Gumgirl, you definitely are not alone. I hope the book helps. I have similar memories of being in the lab with my infant son and feeling like I could do it all. And some days I could. But, I eventually opted for part-time work. It hasn’t always been easy to sustain a career this way – and now that the kids are somewhat grown (now ages 13 and 15) I’m glad I’ve hung on to the career. Did I loose something? Maybe. I did love lab work and discovery. What a feeling with you know you are the first to pull together and interpret some obscure bit of information. On the other hand, as a consultant and writer – I still get to pull together information, sometimes in novel ways – and I love to do that as well. The downside — it’s definitely not a secure way to work – it takes a good deal of effort to keep in the game.

  6. 6 Jackson Levalley April 19, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Parenting can be such a trial, but I would never change anything if I had the opportunity. Thanks for sharing this.

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  1. 1 “Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory” « Feminist Chemists Trackback on October 29, 2008 at 2:00 am
  2. 2 The Center » Women in Chemistry Trackback on January 13, 2009 at 1:45 pm
  3. 3 Feminist Chemists » Blog Archive » “Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory” Trackback on March 2, 2010 at 12:08 am

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