Mary Jane Gething on Being A Mother
  Mary Jane Gething     Biography    
Recorded: 16 Jan 2003

For me it was easier to wait. But I almost waited too long. I was 41 when my daughter was born. And I had to have, you know, some help. Clearly one’s fertility goes downhill at that sort of age. And I would have liked to have another child but I think that my daughter was my last egg. I mean, who knows! But anyway it didn’t work. But I have had people in my lab who’ve had babies as postdocs or even I had a terrific graduate student at Cold Spring Harbor who had a ten-year-old daughter, who’d had a teenage pregnancy. And had only gone to college after—when her daughter was going to primary school. And then separated from her husband so she was a single mother and doing a Ph.D. and with amazing efficiency. I mean, I was—what I do have to say is that I think that people who have their children young while they’re building their careers take on a Herculean task and they’re incredibly impressive women. I think it is more difficult.

For me as you say I’d pretty much established my career by that time. I had a husband who was—Joe Sambrook—who is an amazing father, a second time around father and perhaps that is why, but certainly it wasn’t the case as I’ve seen with other women of sort of holding the whole burden of child rearing themselves and trying to have a career. It was very much and remains a very shared parenting. So that helps as well. But I’m not in that panicking stage of building a career and trying to cope with a family at the same time. Although what I gave away was you know having more children perhaps. And my daughter does comment from time to time that you know the other children have younger livelier parents. But we tell her that yes but that other children don’t get to fly around the world with their parents so it’s all a balance

Mary-Jane Gething, biochemist is Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne where she earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1974. Subsequently she went to Cambridge to do post-doctoral work.

In 1976, she moved to London to work on protein sequencing and in 1980, Gething and Joseph Sambrook received a NATO grant for travel to collaborate on virus research. She began working at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1982 where she continued her research of proteins. In 1985, Gething and Sambrook moved to Dallas to work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. They moved back to Australia in 1994.

Her current research involves protein folding in the cell and the role of molecular chaperone BiP.