Archive | August 2012

Early career researcher problems

“Life stuff distracting me from work stuff”

tweeted Katie Wheat in today’s Twitter Early Career Researcher chat stream (#ecrChat).  Today’s Twitter #ecrChat is on the topic of work/life balance, hosted by Andrew Frayn.

At the same time, I was in the middle of an email discussion with a colleague early career researcher who’s been offered a full-time one year teaching post at a minor northern university, while she’s also got a full-time six month post near home.  The poor woman has a dilemma, whether to choose  the job close to home but away from a research career, or the lecturer job that should help her to build up an academic career but too far from home.

 Inger Mewburn tweeted a link to a Guardian article relevant for couples – see though the article discusses academic couples rather than where only one is an academic.  That’s another issue being debated in the Twitter #ecrChat – the problems of communicating what you do when your partner isn’t in academia.   I’ve not too much sympathy with that communication problem since it must happen to many couples – for example bankers married to teachers, teachers married to carpenters, carpenters married to housewives, housewives married to bankers.  It’s perennial.  But regardless of communication, career choices must be made: the Guardian journalist writes,
“We cannot be the only couple in this position, forced to compromise the career of one so that the other may flourish.”
and then discusses it in the academic case, but ’twas ever thus.  Time was when a woman had no career, or relinquished it when the children arrived, perhaps earlier, on marriage.  I know a Shakespearean actress who stopped working as soon as she married her engineer husband, and a teacher who forewent further training on running a nursery school because she expected to have children.  Nowadays, a couple would  debate more on whose career would take prominence.  Thank goodness.
Here’s Melissa Terra’s take on how she keeps her career and her life in balance.   She has a supportive partner, flexible hours, can afford help, takes short cuts, uses the technology.  In short, she’s not superwoman.  I’ve done those, got those opportunities, used them, and that’s just how it is; you can hardly separate life and work when you enjoy them.
Now I’ve not the usual balance issue of too much work and no play.  I get enough play but not enough research work.   I’m pleased with what I’ve got, but like my colleague it’s not enough to make a research career because it’s not a permanent research position in a university, and paid tutoring work tends to take over.  Perhaps the next #ecrChat (See for future chats) will spur me on to more research, and work stuff will distract me for life.