Troy Littleton, a lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and who runs a research lab at the college, installed the “new equipment” in a bid to support his student, Karen Cunningham, so she could finish her thesis project research without too much strain.
Karen gave birth to her daughter Katie while in graduate school, and has since had to continue studies while finding a way to take care of her child.
Karen’s husband had been playing a crucial role in raising their daughter—particularly during the pandemic, where families have been more isolated—staying home until she can join day care in the fall, but his child care schedule was sometimes tied up by meetings he had to attend.
Meanwhile, on-campus child care was shut down due to the pandemic, and they had no family nearby to help out.
The new arrangements, however, will mean more mom time for the baby, and more flexibility for the busy student.
In an interview with Good Morning America, Karen said she was very grateful to her professor for offering a space close to the lab for her daughter.
“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 is great,” she said.
Meanwhile, Troy took to Twitter and posted a picture of the travel crib set up in his office.
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
“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,” he captioned.
“And I get to play with her while her mom gets some work done. Win-win!!”
The post went viral, garnering over 117,000 likes and more that 8,000 retweets—while starting an online discussion on the challenges mothers face in the workplace.
“I wish people were able to spot the real hero here,” Troy said in a comment. “It is the graduate student mom, not me. Happy mother’s day to all—they deserve it.”
In yet another tweet, he posted a picture of himself and Katie in his office, and expressed what a joy it is having her around. “Finally got to play with my graduate student Karen’s little daughter Katie. What a delight!” he wrote.
Troy said he’s glad that his tweet had such a positive impact in supporting working mothers. “It is highlighted that this is a really important issue for our community,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Twitter users added their voices to the comment section to express their views on the subject. “Awesome to see this kind of thing, from a momma of a four month old,” commented Nerida.
“You are a good dad,” another Twitter user wrote.