Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Parents with PhDs

These three words open up an explosion of discussions.

Let's look at some examples I know of.

1. Mom defends her PhD a few weeks before delivery of her second baby and with 2 year-old. It has been a climb, but she is finished! She takes time off with newborn, is involved in community projects, but how does she re-enter science after years away from research?

2. Dad is stay-at-home with 2 year-old and 3 month old as Mom is a Director. He has had biotech industry experience; but the last 2 years, he has not even had time to pursue his own interests, let alone read an article! Now what?

3. Mom leaves her Director position to have three children. Five years later - now what?

There are no support systems to help these parents. Fellowship funding after childrearing is often limited to 2 years (any other information out there?) And, older parents who were already in mid-management science positions do not qualify for fellowships.

I will tell you though that these parents are just as effective, if not more, in performance. Multi-tasking, meeting deadlines, budgeting, negotiation are all skills perfected in parenting. The only thing these parents need to have are the "refresher" conferences, meetings and time to read the latest science articles.

The only way to do that is direct financial and time investment.

1. Attend a conference.
2. Dedicate at least 2-5 hours a week on reading up on science (while they sleep), and global scientific issues.
3. Keep in touch with the network - ask them what they and the organization are up to.
4. Mentor. You still can.
5. Be mentored (mentornet).
6. Sit on an advisory board.
7. Speak at career development talks for students.
8. Organize a local Moms and Dads in Science Group or Peer Mentorship Group.
9. Volunteer for a science-related cause.

To all these parents, you have to squeeze out the time. Somehow, it has to be done, to keep in touch. Then, through all these activities, you will make connections and assess your own career directions...to eventually find your path.

It may be lonely sometimes.
Sometimes you will doubt yourself.
This "career transition" may be the toughest one yet, but don't give up! You have the intelligence. Just add some creativity and you'll get there.

Just New: LinkedIn Group "Parents with PhDs." See you there!

Another resource:

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