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If you could do it all again..

Caroline J. Walker walkerc at CLEMSON.EDU
Tue Jun 9 12:45:42 EST 1998


	I left having kids until I was a postdoc.  In grad school I hadn't
met my husband so having children was not an issue, but looking back at how
stressful grad school was I am glad I didn't have to combine the two.  I
have found that the flexible scheduling of a postdoc has been wonderful for
having children.  I have been able to take nice long maternity leaves and
have been able to arrange part time work.  At the same time I have kept my
publication record going (albeit at a slower rate) and my hands-on skills
up to date.  The down side is that it delays a move onto the tenure track.
It is constantly frustrating for me to see my male  contemporaries able to
go right into tenure track positions and combine it with having a family
without missing a beat.
	The other disadvantage to my mommy route is the perception that I
take my science less seriously - and I am sure that some of you thought
that when I mentioned long leave and part time work!  This is not the case.
I think I have a balanced view point where my commitment to my children is
important, and that is nothing to be apologetic about.  The science can go
slow for a while and the world will not fall to pieces!
	Anyway, the net effect of having a long postdoc for me is that I
have been able to take a step back and really think about what I want to do
with my career.  I have deprogrammed myself from the idea that going into
industry is some sort of failure or that I am a "leak", and have realised
that academic science is not for me.  Furthermore, I think I will enjoy the
variety and challenge of industrial work and feel good about the applied
aspects of what I am doing. How successful I am in making this transfer
remains to be seen!
	I have many friends who are in the same boat, thinking about the
best time to have kids, and I get angry at the lack of options women have.
There is no good time to do it!

Good luck,

Caroline






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