Let go of the guilt
I first become pregnant during my last year of grad school, and many of my student peers wondered if I was sabotaging all that I had worked for. This line of thinking is grossly unfortunate in that it perpetuates the stereotype that you cannot have children and be a scientific researcher. Also, most grad and postdoc programs are not fully prepared to support women who decide to start a family while in training, and I would like to see that change!
The hardest part for me was realizing and accepting that work-life balance is highly fickle and quite often unpredictable (you can’t do anything about a puking kid on the morning of your big meeting or experiment) and to let go of the guilt involved with doing one over the other. But once someone told me that I need not apologize for doing what I had to do – that goes for work and family – I felt better about my decisions. My advice would be never to let anyone else dictate what is and what is not best for you. If you do let someone tell you how you should live your life, you are basically being bullied. And no one likes a bully.
– Jeanne Garbarino is a postdoc at the Rockefeller University
and the mother of two daughters.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I would like to thank all the scientists who took time out of their busy lives to respond to my questions. I would particularly like to acknowledge my fellow scholars in the Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching IV program.
- 1. Ecklund, E. H. & Lincoln, A. E. PLoS ONE 6(8): e22590 (2011).
- 2. Flint, Ehm K. et al. The Postdoc’s Guide to Pregancy and Maternity Leave and The Postdoc’s Guide to Paternity Leave (2011).
- 3. Goulden, M. et al. Staying Competitive: Patching America’s Leaky Pipeline in the Sciences (2009).
- 4. Tang, C.-Y. & Wadsworth, S. M. National study of the changing workforce (2008).
- 5. Leupp, K. M. Even Supermoms Get the Blues: Employment, Gender Attitudes and Depression (2011).
Cristy Gelling (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh and a writer at Bitesize Bio. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CristyGelling.