Monday, October 26, 2009

University life and starting a family

I'll save the details of my work and such for tomorrow. Right now, I thought I'd include this funny PhD comic I saw the other day.

Thankfully this is not my plan (there are very few post-doctoral positions in linguistics), but it does reflect a common outlook on starting a family in academia.

Most people (notably my father) believe that being a university professor is a dream job, and one just perfect for having a family. You're off in the summer and for federal holidays and you have more flexibility than high school teachers - what could be more perfect? Well, when it comes to community colleges and small universities, there is certainly truth in that. When it comes to prestigious universities and research institutes (the ones that the faculty in your department expect you to go to), this is not so much the case. In fact, having more than 2 kids seems to be an unspoken taboo.


  1. mike sent this to me today too! i thought he was secretly reading your blog or something.
    he wants to bring it up to the ADVANCE group on campus...although I'm still at a loss as to what anyone can do about it other than say, "no grad school, you may own my life but you're not taking away my future family too!" and proceed to have kids whenever we want :)

  2. Hehe, yeah, I'm not sure what if anything can be done about it. Like you (and my adviser) said, the best plan is to just have kids whenever you want and not worry about how it interferes with career goals - because if you wait for the "right" time, it won't ever happen!

    But as I try to think seriously what a university group could do about it, I guess maybe there could be things. Like getting low cost daycare onto campuses, bringing in a speaker to talk honestly about how it can (and can't) be juggled, a support group for mothers who choose this, etc. I'm not sure if any policies regarding for example tenure could/should be changed, but I imagine there are several things that could be looked into.