kids and science

Jill Helms jhelms at
Wed Oct 28 15:56:55 EST 1992

In response to Marivonne Rodriguez's question about taking a "baby break" 
post-doc and tenure-track position: I think it's dependent upon at least 2
factors.  One, are you emotionally/financially ready to have a child at 
that time (independent of your career status)? I think that question 
can only be answered as you get closer to that time in your life.  Two,
what field of science are you in?  If you are one of the hot, sexy
fields in biology, a year or two off puts you behind the eight-ball, as
the techniques and your general familiarity with what's happening in the
field are rapidly outdated.  Other areas of science can move much more
slowly, and therefore a year or two off might not make a noticeable

Another thing to consider instead of "bowing out" of science all together
for those years is a non-tenure track teaching job.  I'm hesitate to
even suggest it because this type of position frequently has a glass ceiling, 
and far too frequently it is all that a woman dares aspire to.  But
for a temporary position that keeps you within your field of interest 
without tying you to a laboratory, teaching may be the answer.  
What about your boyfriend taking off the time and him getting a teaching
job whilst you look for a tenure-track position?

I personally think the idea of taking a total break between post-doc and 
your first job is not a good idea.  I mean, the purpose of working your
arse off, generating those publications, etc. is to secure a good
first position so that you can begin to do independent research. Taking
the time off then seems like you're basically just letting the head
of steam you've built up just die down.  IMHO, of course.


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