[ExI] flds raid, was general repudiation...

Amara Graps amara at amara.com
Fri May 2 14:10:15 UTC 2008

>>  Teenage girls are exactly in prime-time to have babies;
>Please state references.

Anna, there is a simple biological logic.  A girl can't become pregnant
until she reaches puberty. That is the peak of her fertility because the
number of her eggs when she reaches puberty is already on a decline. For
couples having unprotected sex, the teenage girls will beat the older
women for ease of conception.


"One of the most important explanations for age-related infertility in
women is the declining number of genetically normal available eggs. The
peak number of eggs (also known as oocytes) is achieved long before
women even consider becoming pregnant: when a female fetus is 4-5 months
old, still in the mother's uterus, it possesses up to 6-7 million eggs.
By birth, this number drops to 1-2 million and declines even further
when, at the start of puberty in normal girls, there are 300,000-500,000
eggs. Several hundred oocytes are lost during the 3-4 decades a woman
has regular menstrual cycles through the monthly development and
ovulation of an oocyte. Many other oocytes are lost through triggered,
natural cell death. When a woman reaches her mid- to late 30s, when she
has about 25,000 eggs left in her ovaries, the loss rate of oocytes
accelerates. In addition, as a woman ages the ability of her oocytes to
divide and distribute the genetic contents normally declines. The
likelihood that an oocyte with an abnormal number of chromosomes will be
fertilized increases with age."

"Egg Quality and a Woman's Age"

"Age and Infertility"

Here we see that my favorite solution to the problem, freezing one's
eggs, still has a number of problems:

"Racing to beat the maternal clock"

If you are interested in the transhuman spin on this topic, then I will
repeat what I wrote on the wta-talk list a few weeks ago about why I
would NOT recommend a woman to go into science/technology as a career
choice today. Her biology limits her severely to start a family in
exactly the time when she is establishing her name in her professional

Me, on wta-talk 10 April 2008:

  If you were a girl, I would tell you:

Working in Science is a 150% commitment. Your offtime hours are not your
own, good pay for your work is hard to find all over the world, your
working life will likely be unstable with contracts of one to a couple
of years at a time for a decade after your PhD with little or no work
benefits. You will be living frequently in different states and
sometimes different countries over the course of your career, so that
every time you build a social life, you will need to leave your friends
behind. And moreover, in science, as a woman in most western countries,
it will be very difficult or not possible to build a family. Your
biology will limit you, and there is very little that you can do about
that in 2008. Unless you _really_ love science and/or don't care very much
about about building a family, or go through the large expense and
painful process of [1] to try to preserve that option, I don't recommend
the field of science for you.

[1] Frozen egg birth begins a reproduction revolution for women

An example of the chasm between nice theoretical transhumanist
discussions and the reality of implementation in daily life.

In 2008, technologies such as [1] exist, but the legality (depending on
the country), the expense (varies by country), and the long painful
process (each day for some weeks or months, several intramuscular and/or
subcutaneous daily injections of different hormones, then the eggs
extraction procedure) makes this procedure into an obstacle that very
few young women are willing to undergo. I know because I've tried to
convince several young women researchers I know. This is definitely a
technology that looks good in theory, but the implementation isn't there
for the average western woman; it is certainly _not_ designed with her
in mind. And moreover, these 'preparation' (hormone) procedures, which
are the same as for IVF, _have barely changed in the last 10 years_.

This is the 'wave of the  future'? Sorry, but I don't see that, and
neither do other smart women.

Now here is a more eloquent writer, Sabine who can say more, and
about the life of a young scientific researcher, generally.


from Sabine at:

<begin quote>
Meaning I have to write applications - again - this fall. Which, after
all these words, eventually brings me to the reason of my current

I've been in the field for more than ten years now. I've had contracts
for a year, for 9 months, I've even had a contract for 6 months. I moved
5 times in 4 years. I have three different social security numbers, but
I'm not sure if I'd qualify for either of their benefits (actually, I
have four, but that's a longer story). Each summer I try to arrange my
conference participation with meeting friends and family. My contact to
them is an annual briefing with the essentials, who got married,
divorced, died, lost his job, had children. I have no retirement plan,
and my unemployment insurance is basically non-existing because I've
never had a job in my home-country for more than a few months (the ones
that I've had were tax-free scholarships which doesn't count). Since
I've never had a regular income, no bank would sensibly lend me money. I
vote in a country where I don't live and live in a country where I can't

I'm not telling you that because I want to complain; I am telling you
that because my situation is in no means exceptional. That's just what
it means to be a postdoc. In fact, I believe I am better off than many
others. I could live with that - if there was an end in sight.

Why am I telling you that

Because I see an increasing number of friends leaving the academic
world. It hardly happens because they are not qualified enough, or
because they discovered they lost their interest in physics. Neither
does it happen because they couldn't find a job. In fact, they often
quit a position they had. They just simply weren't willing to play these
games of vanity any more. Many of them just want to have a job where
their skills are appreciated appropriately - appropriately to their age
and expertise - where they have a sensible contract, and at least some
kind of stability and future options. So they go and work for the
research departments of large companies, become teachers, work in
counseling, in a bank, scientific publishing, for the weather service,
or in a patent office.

The good aspect is I don't know anybody with a PhD in theoretical
physics who became unemployed. Theoretical physicists, so it seems, have
the reputation of being good in solving problems, which makes them
useful for a lot of different tasks.

The bad aspect is that all these people are lost for foundational

And that, folks, are the selection criteria currently applied to pick
the 'brightest' and 'most promising' young researchers: Those who will
do well should be completely convinced of their own ingenuity, flourish
without much motivation, and perform well under high competitive
pressure. They should be able and willing to think in one to three year
plans - for work and for life -, have connections up the latter and use
them, act politically and socially smart, and should be willing to work
under other people's supervision until their mid thirties.

Now I'll go back to bed and pull the blanket over my face. Thanks for
listening in.

<end quote>



Amara Graps, PhD      www.amara.com
Research Scientist, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado

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