Valerie Maxville and Helene Fung
|Articles like the previous one stating a mother’s worth have a purpose – to spark awareness of and provoke conversation on the value of mothers. For me the list of occupations was contentious as many of them are specialist areas that require years of education to gain qualifications. As a computer scientist turned software engineer, working in a School of Information Systems, the lines between these related areas of computing have similar identity issues. I won’t go into that here, but it is part of the logic that leads me to say that rather than saying mothers are chefs, nurses, dieticians, psychologists, teachers etc. we should consider them domestic engineers.|
Science, Engineering and Parenting
Just as we have the specialist areas of Computing, Chemistry and Electronics, we have Software Engineers, Chemical Engineers and Electronic Engineers. What is the difference? The specialists concentrate on a particular area, while the engineers consider the application of those areas to industry and production. They need the perspective that covers the entire project – risk, scheduling, contingencies, policy and procedures. They manage contractors and consultants, balancing the various constraints to produce an optimal solution.
Becoming a parent does not magically endow you with specialist knowledge in child psychology, nutrition or medicine – parents will research each situation as it arises, or is foreseen. However, an understanding of each of these areas is required, and even if there is outsourcing (child care, babysitting, school, sporting clubs, hospital), the parent has to weigh up the options for the short and long term goals for the “project” (getting through the day, raising a healthy, confident, well-balanced child). They develop rules and policies to minimise risk and improve productivity within the home, and need to be aware of regulations and quality of service issues. Anyone who has witnessed a family dealing with challenging medical problems will attest to the contingency planning that is required to survive. This is engineering – the application of the sciences and management to a production environment.
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