There is nothing easy about being a working mother.
On top of caring for your child or children, you’re also expected to show up for work or school as if you didn’t have a child to look after. And often times there’s very little resources to help, however one professor at MIT wanted to do everything he could to help one of his graduate students.
Dr. Troy Littleton, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently went viral for his show of support of one of his graduate students who happens to be the mother of a young daughter.
Karen Cunningham, 29, is a biology graduate student at MIT and she lives in student housing with her husband, Steve who teaches middle school math online.
Their daughter, Katie, was born in July, and while Steve is able to take care of her most of the time, there are times when Karen found herself needing to bring her daughter to the lab.
“It really was a little stressful to have the world shut down in the middle of our pregnancy, then give birth knowing we were going on this big adventure without all of the infrastructure we needed,” Karen told The Washington Post.
The school’s day care wasn’t an option because it shut down during the pandemic.
Karen’s professor stepped up to help
Her professor, Troy Littleton, said his group of students usually throws a baby shower whenever they have a new parent, but due to the pandemic they were unable to for Karen.
“We couldn’t have a shower for Karen due to the pandemic, but we all agreed that a portable crib would be the perfect gift,” he said.
Once everyone was vaccinated, Karen set the crib up in her professor’s office, and whenever she needed to bring her daughter to work, she was able to leave her with Littleton so she could work in the lab.
“Child care in any profession is a challenge, but in science, it can even be more challenging,” Littleton said. “Experiments don’t always fit a 9-to-5 schedule. It just made sense for Karen to bring Katie in.”
Not only did Karen receive support from her professor and those she works with, but after Littleton tweeted a picture of the crib, both she and her professor received praise.
“So much better than when I was told to bring my baby in a backpack and put the backpack on the floor while I did experiments with carcinogenic agents,” one person wrote.
“Still a postdoc, but will definitely be doing this if I ever make it to your side of the desk! Well done!” someone else shared.
“I’m glad it had that effect because we need to be solving these issues, both in academia and on a broader level as well,” Littleton told Good Morning America.
We definitely need to see more of this. It is too difficult for working parents, especially mothers, to keep their jobs and take care of their children.
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