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torn between motherhood and science

PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 4:57 pm
by Heather
Hi everybody,

I am an American living in Germany and I finished my Ph.D. in June 2002. I have a good publication record, but am still working in my pre-doctoral lab as a post-doc. I am planning on moving back to the U.S. within the next year. The real problem is this. I have a daughter and would like to have another child, and although I love doing science, I also want to be able really participate in the growing up of my children. Ideally, I would be able to find a part-time job, but since working half time is unheard of in the biological sciences (at least at the bench), I?m at a bit of a loss as to what to search for. Should I try to find a post-doc position for half time? I?m not sure how I could convince a P.I. to offer me this possibility. Or should I look for a job teaching (university level)? Are there any other opportunities, such as in a biotech company? Probably free-lance writing would also be an option, but I don?t have much experience writing and would have no idea where to start.

Any comments would be appreciated.

torn between motherhood and science

PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 7:43 pm
by Bill L. & Naledi S.
Hi Heather --
I think it might be difficult to conduct a job search with the stated goal of working half time at the bench right from the start. However, I have heard of various special arrangements being made for "scientist-parents" when the PI has worked with the postdoc for awhile already, or really really needs a unique skill set, or has come to depend on the person and doesn't want to lose them completely.

And in industry, finding a half-time bench research position right away seems like an equally difficult task, although some of the larger biotech/pharma companies are known to be particularly progressive and flexible around maternity leave issues for their employees, on-site child care facilities and flex schedules to meet busy parents' family care needs.

You mention teaching at the college level. It's definitely possible to find part-time teaching gigs, especially if you're going to locate in a city where there are a large number of community and 4-year colleges. However, teaching a course here and a course there doesn't generate tons of money.

Finally, you mention science writing...I would recommend visiting the "Career Transitions" section of There's some excellent advice in there on how to get started in science/medical writing, from people who have successfully made the transition. Career Transitions also features a large list of other career options to explore that might be more family friendly.

Best wishes --
Bill L. and Naledi S.

torn between motherhood and science

PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2004 5:10 am
by Heather
Thank you for the advice. Career Transitions is an excellent resource and is showing me that there are many more opportunities than I had imagined.