A new perk: housework benefits?

Londa Schiebinger has an interesting proposal:

Employers should offer benefits to help pay for someone to do your housework. Less time dusting and ironing means more time devoted to the job you’re actually paid for…In a paper published in the Jan. 19 issue of Academe, Schiebinger and co-author Shannon Gilmartin, a Clayman Institute research consultant, say scientists at 13 leading U.S. research universities spend an average of 19 hours a week doing basic housework like cooking, cleaning and laundry. And women do much more of the work than men, 54 percent to 28 percent…“We argue that work done in the home is very much an academic issue – not peripheral in any way to scientists’ professional lives,” Schiebinger and Gilmartin write in their paper. “Understanding how housework relates to women’s careers is one new piece in the puzzle of how to attract more women to science.”…Creating a benefit to help offset cleaning costs would also help professionalize housework, a job that Schiebinger calls “invisible labor that isn’t counted in the gross domestic product.”
Outsourcing more of that work will create stronger, better paid jobs for professional housecleaners, much in the same way that childcare has been professionalized, she said…While the study is focused on improving the work-life balance of female scientists working at universities, Schiebinger says housework benefits should become a standard perk for men and women in all professions.

(Thanks, Sam!)

A win for free speech in Britain

We’ve detailed before reasons to be concerned about academic speech in Britain.  Now an appeal in one of the cases we cited has been won:

Scientists and campaigners for the reform of Britain’s libel laws were celebrating today after leading science writer Simon Singh won a crucial appeal in a court battle with the British Chiropractic Association (BCA).

Emerging triumphantly from the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Singh said that he hoped the strongly worded appeal judgment would also spur reform of British libel laws that, in their current form, may stifle scientific debate. “It’s not good news, it’s great news,” he said.