sarahkeenihan

Part time everything

In March 2014 on March 6, 2014 at 9:04 am

kirsti ants in vial text

Kirsti: All that talk of time hasn’t left me. In fact, that Sarah blogged about time and then revisited her blogging every day for AN ENTIRE YEAR (a feat that I think is super-human by the way) reminded me of so many discussions I’ve had with friends and colleagues (mostly female, but not all) about choosing to work PART TIME. Whether it was after we’d had kids, or just because there are other things in our lives we want to pursue (unpaid – I know, crazy), choosing to work part time comes with both joys and curses.

I’m a passionate women in science advocate.

But I’m actually not talking about just scientists or related to science jobs here either. I’m talking generally. Because going part time has similar drawbacks and benefits in nearly every job, it’s just that in science the drawbacks seemed to be magnified by what feels like 2000 times, and often have serious consequences for future employment.

I decided to work part time after having my daughter, nearly 7 years ago. Before motherhood, I was a fairly ambitious researcher and assumed I would return to part time, then probably full time research within a year of giving birth, and naturally go on to have a spectacularly productive research career and adventure all around the world doing ant ecology on magnificent tropical islands……

OMG, SO WRONG!

When missy moo arrived, apart from all the normal REALLY HARD parts of having a baby and trying to juggle that with RIDICULOUS commitments to an academic world I would return to, my priorities changed so monumentally, so utterly profoundly that going back to full time work made me feel like I would be neglecting the most important thing that had just been given to me. My new family.

I was unprepared for my change of feeling about family. Like, totally unprepared.  And it took me quite a few years to completely honour it; to feel satisfied with ‘leaving’ research and academia per se, to live by my newfound life-balancing philosophy.

In that time however, I have fought hard alongside women for flexibility, acknowledgement and creative spaces where women can be full time, part time, any time, and for that to be recognised as VALUABLE, REAL and SUSTAINABLE in academic institutions and other careers. I have learnt to be persistent and consistent in my message over time. I have cried over time for the injustices that happen to brilliant women in the face of linear and traditional expectations.

And I have smiled, admired and celebrated the amazing successes where they exist.

Right now though, I am proud to be a part time everything. I want my life to be full with things that fulfil me, that connect my family and heal others and the world. I’ve discovered that doesn’t happen so well when you work full time on one thing. So here I am, part time researcher, pat time teachers, part time communicator, part time gymnast, part time photographer…….(here’s not where you bring up that I’m a part time mum)…

But you know what? I REEAALLLYY want to go look at those ants under the microscope, but I won’t’ be back at work until next week. CURSES.

If you’re interested in the part time thing in science/academia, I’d recommend you read this great article by Kate O’Brien and Karen Hapgood. They used ecosystem modelling to show how women are driven out of research. Brilliant!

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