"I've been tired for six years," says Judith C. Gasson, a molecular biologist and an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine. She's only half joking. Since the 40-year-old scientist became a mother six years ago, time has become her most precious commodity. Says Gasson, "I have to be extremely organized."

Her days are a blur of activity, bracketed by breakfast and dinner with her husband, an attorney who shares parenting chores, and their two children, ages six and three. Gasson arrives at work by 9 A.M. after an hour-long commute, during which she makes phone calls, dictates correspondence, and generally plans out her day. Once she gets to work, her time is taken up by meetings, teaching, and all the time-consuming details of running a laboratory.

Gasson generally gets home around 6 P.M., and when the children are tucked into bed, she catches up...

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