One professor in Massachusetts is putting others to shame for going above and beyond for one of his students after she became a new mom...
The professor has been praised for his kind actions towards a graduate student with a 10-month-old baby.
Officially an MIT essential personal. Keeping our lab Drosophila stocks alive during the pandemic. They are doing better than the ones I bought home to maintain, so glad we kept most in the lab. pic.twitter.com/cBGPUBSiOo— Troy Littleton (@JTroyLittleton) April 10, 2020
Dr. Troy Littleton, a professor of neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently went viral on Twitter for setting up a travel crib for the grad student's baby.
The student, Karen Cunningham, has a 10-month-old daughter, Katie...
"My favorite new equipment purchase for the lab – a travel crib to go in my office so my graduate student can bring her little girl to work when necessary and I get to play with her while her mom gets some work done. Win-win!!" Littleton tweeted on May 7.
That tweet has since gone viral...
With thousands commending his kindness and praising him for spreading awareness about the challenges working mothers face...
This is amazing! 😀— Hannah Locke (@HLockeSTEM) May 7, 2021
You are awesome 💖— Marullo (@LizardiMaria) May 7, 2021
I like the way it is going at your lab professor 😊👍— Ahmed M.Abdelal (@Ahmedzolo) May 7, 2021
This is so sweet and generous.— Tom Kimmerer, PhD (@tomkimmerer) May 7, 2021
Wow we need more PIs like you. Thank you for sharing this !— Dr. Maren de Vries (@Auraya25) May 8, 2021
It’s the best!!! And kudos to you for being an awesome mentor!!— Ashi_W (@AshaniTW) May 8, 2021
I smile reading your words. Thanks for being a good human being— Monica Lopez Hidalgo (@LopezHidalgo_M) May 8, 2021
"This is what equity and support of women look like!" wrote one user.
"This port-a-cot image has made my day. It is so NOT hard if you care to think of inclusive solutions."
"This is beautiful!" added another person.
"We need more workplaces like this that consider caretaking as a healthy & necessary part of an adult work life, not a distraction from it."
Littleton explained that he set up the crib as a late baby shower gift...
Not our typical yearly lab photo, but everyone is happy at the prospect of resuming normal lab meetings later in the year when we all are vaccinated! pic.twitter.com/ANFxNRmNWr— Troy Littleton (@JTroyLittleton) April 13, 2021
"Usually in non-pandemic times we always have baby showers for expectant mothers and fathers where we give them gifts and we weren't able to do that with Karen because of the pandemic, so this was sort of the lab gift for Karen, 10 months later," he said. "It's always a challenge [being a parent while in graduate school] so anything you can do in a lab to facilitate and help out, we try."
"The first year of being a parent is hard and it's helpful to have a lot of support. I think during the pandemic parents have been isolated from a lot of their support so [the crib] is definitely an add-on and a really wonderful one."
Littleton decided to post the image of the crib after Cunningham's first visit to the lab.
My favorite new equipment purchase for the lab – a travel crib to go in my office so my graduate student can bring her 9-month old little girl to work when necessary and I get to play with her while her mom gets some work done. Win-win!! pic.twitter.com/1R7QKprOLr— Troy Littleton (@JTroyLittleton) May 7, 2021
"The tweet came from just being delighted to be able to see Katie for the first time and to have the opportunity on occasion, when Karen wants to bring her in, to be able to play with her a little bit," Littleton explained. "That was the genesis of the tweet, not from any idea it was going to create this large discussion about the challenges mothers face in the workplace."
His tweet has since been liked over 117,000 times...
This is so kind - but a sad substitute for parental leave and daycare... :( Had several month of payed leave when I was (danish) graduate student - hope other students will have that too in the future— Laurits Andreasen (@LauritsSA) May 8, 2021
Some pointed out the difficulties new moms face with a work-life balance.
Littleton said he was pleased with the productive conversations coming out of his tweet.
Finally got to play with my graduate student Karen's little daughter Katie. What a delight! pic.twitter.com/8dOYuIWipL— Troy Littleton (@JTroyLittleton) April 29, 2021
"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," he shared with the outlet, noting that MIT does currently offer resources for working moms, including a daycare on its campus.
"It's highlighted that this is a really important issue for our community," he added.
According to Cunningham, her husband usually watches Katie, but she is grateful to have the support of MIT if needed.
"There's the solid, focused six to eight hours of work that you wouldn't want to bring a baby in for, but then there's the lab errands that you do here and there and that's when it's really useful," Cunningham explained. "I can put Katie down and just go do something quick and I can see her and talk to her and she can nap in there. It's great.
"One of the reasons I picked MIT was because I got a really positive response from the biology department when I brought up the fact that I was definitely going to want to have a baby during grad school," she added. "I was thinking about that the whole time."
She hopes other schools and employers will follow his lead.
"It's really easy to look at the systemic challenges facing parents and moms in our country… and kind of throw up your hands and be like, 'Well it's huge. I can't fix that,'" she explained. "But then these sort of local ways that people in positions of power can protect parents against the systemic things, like what Troy's been doing in creating a really supportive and inclusive lab, I think that does make a really big difference and it's great to have an example of that."
Littleton said he doesn't see his gesture as anything out of the ordinary, but was happy to help.
Well that little tweet blew up?!? However, I wish people were able to spot the real hero here. It's the graduate student mom, not me. She's amazing to do all she has to with her daughter and still keep up her thesis project research. Happy Mother’s Day to all – they deserve it!— Troy Littleton (@JTroyLittleton) May 9, 2021
"I wish people were able to spot the real hero here," he wrote on May 9. "It's the graduate student mom, not me. She's amazing to do all she has to with her daughter and still keep up her thesis project research. Happy Mother's Day to all – they deserve it!"
What a guy!
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