That all said, as a woman in science, it is sometimes disheartening to almost never hear an article suggest that a woman in science discuss household duties with her partner and split them evenly. The author of your article makes the statement that women bear the burden of household labor, but until scientists begin to tell other scientists that this isn't right, women are going to continue to leave academic science for fear of not being able to "balance" work and family.
You can be right and be practical at the same time. These need not be mutually exclusive. I also think that you need not choose between achieving tenure and advocating for social justice. And, until you stop choosing, the pipeline is going to continue to leak like a sieve.
--Isis the Scientist, "A Response on Men, Women, Housework, and Science"
I feel compelled to add, as I have written in many blog-post comments over the last few days, that I deeply respect the value and autonomy of individual relationships -- and this, too, is an important part of this calculation. Asking a woman to do more because she is a woman is never fair. But personal relationships are not appropriate places for philosophers or career advisers to lurk. It's up to each couple -- not me, not feminist critics, not tradition -- to negotiate housekeeping, childcare, or other domestic responsibilities, and the other aspects of personal relationships. The goal is for those choices to be freely made and not coerced. So men, and women: It's up to you and your partner to set the terms, but please make sure those decisions are made as freely as can be achieved.
--Jim Austin, "A Special Message for Men: Do Your Share"
While a robust internet discussion about careers and home-life and gendered division of labor has been going on, I have been sitting on the sidelines. (And baking cupcakes and making other necessary preparations for the joint birthday party we hosted for the Free-Ride offspring this past weekend. Plus wondering if this is the year that the social judgment will be spoken aloud, whether by someone outside the family or by one of the sprogs: "How is it that you can make them share a party like that rather than giving each of them a distinct birthday party close to their actual month and day of birth?" How indeed.)
It's not that I don't know something about trying to combine a career with family and obligations outside that career (although balance is not the right word to describe that kind of task). But it is hard to speak of these experiences without someone feeling as if my "is" is intended to have the force of an "ought".
And that jump is pretty hard not to make, given that one thing that girls and women in American society are socialized to do pretty darn reliably is to judge other girls and women (and, of course, to judge themselves as girls or women). Is there a downside to a particular option? We will find it, even if it is just hypothetical. (And laboring under the burden of hypothetical downsides can be its very own downside.) We can speak about what works for us individually, but do so with the awareness that it might stop working, at which point we have to figure out some other option.