Monday, June 18, 2012

Inner monologues

  I planned on posting every Friday. Just five posts later I’m already off schedule!

  In the past few weeks I’ve seen this article in the Guardian a few places. I recommend it because it’s a quick read with lots of interesting talking and thinking points. The gist is that most women do not want a career in academia after completing their Ph.D., based on a study of chemistry Ph.D. students in the UK.
And although the findings are sad, I admit I’m not very surprised. I found myself nodding as the author outlines the reasons why: instability due to multiple postdocs, the need for funding, and the perceived sacrifice necessary to succeed, including family life.

  Even though we may not want the academic career, it seems to me that it’s still the best bet for employment after a Ph.D. in my discipline. Industry is an option for many disciplines, along with government agency work and non-profit groups. I have begun to reluctantly consider an academic career as I find the types of jobs I would like, with high research potential, low-to-none teaching, and a regular work schedule, to be scarce. Pros: summer off! Cons: undergrads (realizing that’s a broad generalization). Perhaps counter-intuitively, if I were to teach, I think I’d prefer a smaller college. I admire professors that juggle (hee) a research group of graduate students and postdocs with teaching, but doubt I could do it. It seems that with too many responsibilities some aspect is going to suffer, whether it’s mentoring abilities (and remembering what each student is working on), research, or family life. I know I'm not alone in preferring a research-orientated job - that option came up multiple times in conversations with fellow grad students. We liked the idea of a 9-5 job that still allowed us to be involved and active in our field. At least two of those fellow colleagues are now teaching at small colleges, dealing with odd hours and postponed research. To be fair, they seem to enjoy it, but it's not their original goal.

  The debate/conversation of what to do next, and what to aim for, is a constant part of my inner monologue. Does this conversation sound familiar to you?

Literature Cited
Rice, C. (2012). Why women leave academia and why universities should be worried. The Guardian.

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