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What’s being female got to do with anything, ask the scientists who are starting labs and having kids.

Being five months pregnant comes with a series of concessions: no booze, no sushi, no double-shot espressos. Less appreciated, perhaps, is the havoc it can wreak on a breakdancer’s moves. “My dancing is definitely limited now,” says Kay Tye, neurobiologist, award-winning b-girl and assistant professor at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. “I can’t do windmills — I can’t do anything that might cause me to fall. Which is, like, everything.”

It is one of the few limitations that Tye, 31, has been willing to accept. Striving to make her mark in optogenetics, one of the hottest fields in neuroscience, Tye thought nothing of working past midnight, getting by on four or five hours sleep a night and maintaining a constant, transcontinental travel schedule. She has had to dial back a little in recent weeks, and she knows that life may change further once her daughter is born. But she is ready. “I’ve been preparing for this my entire life,” she says. “I chose a career path that’s family friendly.”

An assistant professorship at MIT, where the tenure rate hovers at around 50% and the faculty is still about 80% male, may not strike many as particularly family friendly. But Tye, the daughter of a theoretical-physicist father and a biochemist mother, grew up in her mother’s lab, where she was paid 25 cents per box to rack pipette tips. With her mother as a role model, Tye says that she was in her teens before it occurred to her that her gender could hold back her career. “And by then, my brain was already fully formed,” she says with a smile… Original Article »