Do hormones mess with your head?
December 16, 2005 2:17 PM Subscribe
Does anyone have any experiences with pregnancy and postpartum hormones having a negative effect on mathematical or logic skills?
posted by Alison to Society & Culture (19 answers total)
I work in a pretty male-dominated field. Because I’m looking to find ways to integrate childbearing into an academic career I attend mentoring meetings between female graduate students and faculty. I recently had an informal lunch discussion with just a few faculty members where they talked about how their research suffered after giving birth, with one losing out on tenure as a result. They were very insistent that the changes in their thinking were due to hormones rather than the lack of sleep and stress that come with a newborn. Mostly, they expressed that the theories they devised were lacking and any research they did explore ended up not making sense on review. They also emphasized that they were just fine with teaching and administrative work.
I’m glad to have people who will be honest with me about what happened to them, but at the same time I feel like this might be anecdotal. Several of the people I look up to most have children, and I can’t tell where child bearing has affected their body of work. However, I can’t imagine many female faculty members admitting something like this when most have to fight for acceptance in their field.
I know lots of faculty members who have managed to have a family and an academic career, but it can be hard to ask someone if their work suffered due to postpartum hormones. This is a very sensitive subject and I am aware that hormones can be very subjective. However, I feel like this information is very relevant to some decisions I’ll need to make in a few years and I would like to hear from other Mefites about their experiences. I am especially interested in hearing first-hand experiences or from spouses. Also, if anyone knows about any scientific studies relevant to this discussion I would be happy to see them.
I know that this is the sort of thing that creates a tough environment for female faculty members, but I need honest answers so that I can try to have a contingency plan for my research.