Welcome to the first post of our new blog “Math Mamas”! We, the editors, were hoping to create a space where we can share our experiences, learn from each other, and discuss how our identity as women underrepresented in mathematics interacts with our role as a parent. Research shows that academic men benefit professionally from having children, yet women are penalized for having children. Therefore, the community we hope to create through this blog centers mothers and non-binary parents, particularly those who are raising or are considering raising children. We hope that our conversations will help all genders understand the joys and challenges of balancing life as a working mathematician and as a parent. Mathematics is the more formal part of our lives. Motherhood is the less structured and messier part of our lives. Each of these enriches and impacts the other. These roles are not separate and parallel. Instead, they are constantly intersecting which sometimes makes both jobs better and other times brings about unique difficulties.
One of our goals is to build and expand upon ventures that have already been started in this direction. In January 2016 one of the co-editors of this blog, Emille Davie Lawrence, found herself feeling overwhelmed by the obligations of her career and parenting two small children. Seeking others to “compare notes”, she started a Facebook group called “Math Mamas” that quickly became a vibrant hub at which to share commonalities, seek advice, celebrate victories, or even commiserate at times. As the group thrived, group members sought out other opportunities to more publicly share their stories. As a result, Pamela Harris, Carrie Diaz Eaton, Becky Hall, and Emille Davie Lawrence co-edited a special “Mathematics and Motherhood” edition of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics published in July 2018. The special edition featured a collection of essays written by mathematicians who are mothers about various aspects of how these two parts of their lives overlap. Math Mamas blog hopes to continue these conversations and to share them more broadly within and beyond the mathematics community. We strongly feel that communicating openly will help others realize that even those women who seem to “have it all” also deal with obstacles and challenges.
We, as the editorial team, will give our own narratives, but we also want to encourage others to contribute. We welcome guest posts from parents with a variety of backgrounds. Please share with us if you have personal parenting accounts including, but certainly not limited to fostering, adoption, surrogacy, or infertility. We would also welcome you to share if you are a single parent or part of a blended or LGBTQ family. What does the intersection of math and parenthood look like for you? All experiences are unique, but we hope that these posts will bring about better understanding within the mathematics community. To grow a more diverse and inclusive community, we need to be able to appreciate that mathematicians are more than the people teaching and researching in our departments. We have full lives consisting of both struggles and joys that impact how we do our job.
We all exist in the intersection of many identities. While we focus on the mathematics and motherhood, we also hope contributors to this blog will reveal how all of their identities influence their lives as working parents. As an editorial team, we encourage readers and commenters to value the experiences of our contributors, to read with the intention to listen and learn, and to interact with the blog from a place of support.