- MIT professor Troy Littleton put a crib in his office to support a new graduate student mom.
- He is a Band-Aid for custody of U.S. children and inadequate parental permission, the student said.
- Working mothers have largely carried the burden of caring for children and home schooling, leading to burnout.
- Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.
Eleven-month-old Katie Cunningham already has a robust resume: the boy attends an MIT lab, where she is sometimes looked after by experienced scientists while his mother, a biology graduate student, does research.
The installation is not a childhood STEM program; is a creative childcare solution designed by Professor Cunningham, Troy Littleton.
The neuroscience professor wanted one of his students, Karen Cunningham, to be able to enter the lab like the rest of the team once everyone was vaccinated. But doing so was complicated for Karen, who delivered Katie in July 2020 and had no childcare options during the pandemic, she said. he told the Washington Post.
While she and her husband, a middle school teacher, were largely able to cope with the responsibilities, Littleton’s idea of putting a crib in the lab loosened her weight.
“Caring for children in every profession is a challenge, but in science, it can also be more challenging,” said Littleton, a father of one adult child. “Experiments don’t always fit into a 9-5 program. It just made sense for Karen to bring Katie together.”
So with the support of Karen’s lab mates, the professor bought a travel crib to keep in her lab. It was the team’s gift to the new mom who couldn’t celebrate with a baby shower.
When Littleton posted a Twitter image of his new office furniture in May – one of about 70 he posted in his lifetime, he told the Post – it went viral, garnering more than 117,000 likes.
“My favorite new equipment purchase for the lab – a travel crib to go to my office so my graduate student can bring their 9-month-old baby to work when needed and I will play with her while her mom it does a bit of work, ”he wrote. “Win-win !!”
—Troy Littleton (@JTroyLittleton) May 7, 2021
Commentators praised the teacher for supporting parents working in the United States, where childcare is “inaccessible” and parental leave “inadequate,” Karen said.
“I want it in every work environment,” one Twitter user wrote. “Enough with kindergarten and kindergarten. I WANT TO BRING MY FUTURE CHILDREN TO WORK WITH ME. Let them learn what I do. Let them interact with the older generations. We are all a community.”
Littleton was surprised that the tweet gained so much attention, and she continued to put the spotlight on Karen. “I wish people would be able to see the real hero here,” he tweeted. “She’s the mother of a graduate student, not me. It’s amazing to do everything she has to do with her daughter and still keep her thesis project research going.”
The pandemic has affected working mothers especially in hard work
A recent Insider polls found that 41.1% of women reported feeling “very” or “extremely” bruised, compared to 30% of men.
When we look at mothers in particular, a investigation outside the New York Times, NPR, and Morning Consult found that 80% of mothers reported that they managed home education responsibilities. Three-quarters of parents did not have breaks from employers outside of the more flexible hours.
“We’re all really struggling now, and parents have really been put in an impossible situation,” scientist Gretchen Goldman he told Insider earlier. “Support systems have been torn down, and we expect to do our jobs as if nothing is different.”