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Three kids and colleagues attitudes in academia(8 Posts)
Hello everybody, I wonder if you can offer some thoughts/reassurance. I have also posted in pregnancy as I have just found out that I am pregnant with my third DC. I am terrified for very many reasons, but one of them is the potential for colleagues to think I have basically signed out of my career on this basis. In academia, I tend to think that one child is seen as OK, two a little excessive, and three ... well, that's extraordinary. (this obviously only applies to women). But practically, the pace of my career has been pretty glacial until now. I guess now it will be even worse, although I intend to take a relatively short break (and try to continue to write during that time, have been able to do that previously) and will continue to work full time when I go back. Oh God. Is this going to be OK? Anyone else got three and kept on going?
Congrats hun. You've got to ask yourself if it is worth it. Only you know. I'm speaking from the perspective of having left academia and am now working for a charity in a related capacity on three days a week with little pressure x
Most people I know who have children in academia have two. I do, lots of my friends do, so I wouldn't say one is the norm. There are also people who are child-free, probably more than in some other professions, but having children and being an academic isn't weird from where I'm standing.
I'm not going to say 'it won't change a thing' though, because you know already that when you have a child, the later stages of pregnancy, the birth, immediate few months and even longer (in my case a good few years) does slow you up. However, I think the impact of that depends hugely on what resources you have (do you have money as a household, do you need to go back to work immediately?) as well as what stage you are at (can you 'cover' the gap if you like, writing wise?)
In academia, I tend to think that one child is seen as OK, two a little excessive, and three ... well, that's extraordinary.
I am in an extremely competitive field with very few women, but this is still not a fair representation of the attitudes. There are women who have zero, one, two and three children. Some choose to work at a slower pace after having children; some (like me) don't. I know somebody who has 3 children under the age of 3 (first child then twins) who is extremely active in research. I know somebody (male) who has only one child who has pretty much stopped research and the research hasn't picked up again now the child is older. I know a female who is now close to retirement who had 3 children; she slowed down a bit when they were young and picked up later on.
the potential for colleagues to think I have basically signed out of my career on this basis.
This is discrimination, whether you have one child or three. The real problem in academia is this kinds of attitude, not how many children you have. (I have colleagues who think all academics with children are checked out of their career, regardless of gender and number of children, regardless of how hard you work and how successful you are.)
You might well find that with Athena SWAN applications looming they actually want to support you, so that they can claim they are helping those with families?
I've got three and to be honest I don't give a toss what colleagues think! I produce results consistently and quicker than younger colleagues with no children. Three children teaches you to be super time efficient (I definitely wasn't before and am not s naturally organised person, but have to train myself to be).
There also comes a stage (mine are 15,13 and 11) where they are very much more independent and your work rate can increase. I work 4 days and need that one day to myself to recharge. Dh does a lot - cooks every night, ferries around, housework - you need to have that support or get a cleaner. You can't do it all.
It's tough and I would agree with the poster about evaluating if it is worth it in academia. Only you know the answer to that. I can do very little work in the evenings or weekends unless a raging deadline for something. I say no to things e.g paper reviews (do some but not all), grant reviews, presentations if I know it will be a lot of work. I have to have laser focus on what it important to do. I love my work, have learned that I need to have that feeling of my brain being exercised and the excitement of new research/breaking new ground.
Head of my department has 4 kids and got her chair whilst they were still at school. No idea how she did it but there is hope!
Hm I sort of know what you mean as most of my female colleagues either have no children or just one, with the exception of one who has 6! But she lives with her extended family who cover the home stuff. I see it as being more of a by-product to the complexity of research grant funding rather than an attitude thing though. (Although I do sometimes wonder if some of my colleagues actually realise that I don't get paid for my non-working days). Really you won't know until you try will you? On the plus side I have found I am much more time-efficient and get lots done when I am at work, though can't spend the whole weekend marking when I really need to as some of my colleagues can. hope it all goes well.
Ps should be clear I only have 2 DCs plus an adult DSD.