US vs Europe: hours in lab

Heather Etchevers hcorbett at
Tue Feb 27 21:00:08 EST 1996

In article <4gku90$1ea4 at>, Karin Rengefors
<Karin.Rengefors at> wrote:

> I don't believe it's possible to generalize about European hours in lab. 
> In fact, I don't even believe I can generelize for Sweden. However, I 
> can tell you about my department (Limnology). Most Ph D students seem to 
> work a reasonable 9 to 6, or something like that, except for grant 
> application deadlines, intensive lab or field studies.  I don't believe 
> anybody can be effective 12 hrs a day. Also, many of the graduate 
> students (both male and female) have children while doing their PhD's.

I have started to work in a laboratory in France (run by a woman, who had
her family 30 years ago) and was really struck by what you described in
your lab. Many of the PhD students are having children! In my PhD program
at Berkeley in molecular and cell biology, marriage alone is rare, and I
know NO ONE who has a child. Even among the postdocs, many had not started
their families. Now that I am married and will consider when to start my
family, I find the French environment far more supportive of young
professionals with children than the American one in this research
university environment. On the other hand, I think that a postdoc at a
smaller college might find starting her family then very comfortable.
About the hours, too, this is striking, that in this particular lab which
is very competitive, there is not this consensus that a "real" grad
student must work 10-12 hours/day. There are days when you must, of
course, but on the average day one tries to go home by 7, and one tries
not to come in on the weekend. It's a better life, and publications are
still possible.

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