Scientists also reproduce. In fact, I just became mother to James Coos Barratt, and I spent the last 16 weeks on maternity leave. This means a break from science, something quite difficult for young, ambitious (female) scientists. The reason is that their work will lag behind and the opinion most academics share is that they cannot afford to do so because of strong competition in the field to eventually gain a permanent position. So I decided to take this opportunity to promote motherhood in academia! It is, and should be, possible to have children as an academic. In fact, it’s wonderful as a biologist to see and feel how something so complex can develop inside you, from a single cell into a human-being, all programmed so precisely in time. I would not want to miss that, ever.
But of course we- mothers, parents – do have a career break because of these tiny humans. There are ways to deal with this though, and Thaise Emilio directed my attention to this very helpful article about including career breaks in your CV, and Prisca Bauer to this article on how children can make you a better scientist. I’m not sure yet if this will bring me a permanent position, but it did not hinder me to become junior research group leader at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig, Germany.
I will start this new position, focusing on ‘evolution and adaptation‘ in June 2018. I am currently looking for a PhD student and a technician and will advertise these positions very soon.