Thursday, June 12, 2008

Yoky Matsuoka: Neurobotics

Yoky Matsuoka is an associate professor of Computer Science and Engineering and director of the Neurorobotics laboratory at the University of Washington. In 2007 the 36-year-old scientist was named a MacArthur Fellow for her cutting-edge research:

Working at the intersection of computer science, biophysics, material science, biomechanics, and psychophysics, Matsuoka creates sophisticated prosthetic devices and designs complementary rehabilitation strategies.
Matsuoka has juggled her scientific career with being a mother of three young children. In a booklet on "Juggling Work and Family" published by the AAAS (pdf), Matsuoka noted that traveling to meetings is a "challenge that especially affects scientist-moms":
With two-year-old twins plus a third child, she says it's only recently that there has been much acceptance about how difficult it is for women with children to go to conferences without extra assistance. Yoky has obtained special permission from her department to spend unrestricted grant funds to enable travel to meetings.
Are there actually any conferences that have a day care option? I would think that would be quite helpful.

More about Matsuoka's research:
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Unknown said...

The American Physical Society had no childcare at the March meeting, but there is a bulletin board to talk to other parents. And you could apply for small childcare grants ($200). Also, they had a "children's quiet room" which I think was really a breastfeeding room, but I heard it was dirty. I usually left the building to breastfeed or pumped in the bathroom.

Anonymous said...

Everything requires sacrifice..including science..Nice blog..

Anonymous said...

I'm confused, if men with young children are going to these conferences without problems, then why can't women? Are the dads completely out of the picture? I think women need to put more pressure on men to take care of the kids. It should not be by default the responsibility of the woman. Men are very capable caregivers!

Peggy K said...

Anon, I think there a couple of different issues at play. First off, women who are nursing would need to take their babies along with them. As Lisa points out, having a clean place to nurse or use the breast pump can make a difference in that situation.

Secondly, many women scientists are married to fellow scientists. Not surprisingly, couples do attend conferences together - especially big ones like the APS meeting. And, of course, some women scientists are single mothers. In those situations additional childcare would be needed.

Now I agree that it's ideal for dad to take on additional child care duties while mom's out of town, unless he can take time off from his own job (or he is the full-time caregiver), additional childcare services will likely be needed, either at home or at the conference. And it would be the same situation when men who share in the childcare go out of town as well, so additional childcare services shouldn't be limited to women attending conferences.