career/family decisions

Patricia Cleveland Wolfe pc11 at cornell.edu
Wed Sep 20 15:05:50 EST 1995


Hello,

I am working on a PhD in pharmacology/ cell biology, and hope to finish my
degree next spring or summer.  Is there anyone out there who would be
willing to offer me advice as I try to make some decisions on my career?  

I enjoy bench biology, but I'm not nearly as single-minded in my
dedication to science other scientists seem to be.  Few professors in my
department have families, and in observing their example I feel guilty
spending as much time with my husband as I do.  For me, working with
students (especially in a mentoring role) has been much more thrilling
than research.  Thus, I don't think that I will thrive in a high-pressure
academic research environment. Also, my husband and I will have our first
child in December, and so we need to decide how we wish to maintain our
family.  We both agree that we want a parent at home with the kids.  My
husband loves kids and would willingly be a stay-at-home dad, but he loves
his work so much that it seems a little silly to me to take him from his
work so that I could take a position that I'm not sure I'll like at all.  
   
   The idea of working part-time seems attractive to me, but is this
realistic?  How much part-time work is out there?  If a take a few years
of part-time work, how much will that damage my attractiveness in the job
market later?  I.e., if I don't choose to follow the "postdoc followed by
assistant professor" route right now, will I have eliminated this as a
future option?  Also, does anyone have suggestions for alternative careers
that could exploit the scientific knowledge and analytical skills I have
acquired during my Ph.D. training?  I'd be interested in any unusual
options or ideas.  Science editing?  Consulting?  Sending long, rambling
messages to internet newsgroups?

Any ideas or advice would be much appreciated.

Pat



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