Balancing work and family can be stressful, but balancing an academic career and family can be even worse. A lot of travelling to present your own work and network to find new collaborators and ideas, visiting periods abroad and social events undermine the fundamental component of family life management: routine.
I am a young researcher with five great lucky cards: a husband who's always ready to help and has a flexible framily-friendly job, a financial situation that allows extra expenses sometime, a children-friendly society, retired grandparents willing to travel and a very cooperative sweet toddler. If one of these lucky cards would be missed from my hand, I would be in great distress. I can travel (alone or along with family) because my family has the money to afford it (funny-depressing fact: my babysitter hourly wage is only 3 euros shorter than mine). I can work and quite freely decide my schedule because the country I live in supports me with affordable childcare services and with good family policies. My daugther misses me when I'm gone, but she never went crazy. I even brought her to a couple of meetings. Balancing the two aspects means also trying not to deprive my kid of quality time and that is one of the reasons I take family often along in my trips or why I absolutely need flexibility in my working schedule.
Even those all these problems are gender-free, I am convinced they affect mostly women, and this is why:
- there's a different bond between a mother and her kids, than the one between a father and his kids. This is not a scientific fact, it only comes from my personal experience in observing my kid's reactions to my trips or my husband's. Several female colleagues of mine had the same impression. Basically my kid is much sadder when I'm gone, than when my husband is. Then add breastfeeding years to the mix.
- Women tend to have kids at the early stages of their academic career (that coincides with the last years of the peak of fertility), while men can afford to have kids in their late thirties, when they are on tenure track. Women miss out on the most important years of an academic career (and not always this is taken into account when hiring).
- Even though it's 2015, the social pressure of being a good present parent is much stronger on women than men. In US 96% of fathers take less than two weeks off when their child is born. Long parental leaves mostly taken by women also mean that a man researcher has more chances of going working abroad followed by the family, not affecting the household economics much nor the partner's job stability.
Now let's go back to the gender-free big picture. I bet the frequent travelling is not all joys for fathers either, especially divorced and single dads. It's no fun for the partner who follows with the kids and it's not nice to leave the family behind for several weeks (if not months) a year either. All the above reasons motivate my commitment to promote childcare services in the academic life. Often implementing childcare services is a limited effort that can make a sensible difference for many. It's a leap forward gender equality and equal opportunities.
This post is my personal hall of fame of institutions, events and conferences that offer childcare services or grants. I deeply thank all people who sent and will send me information, I hope this list will be useful for many. If you know of other links, do no hesitate to comment below or contact me. Feel free to copy, share and distribute the list or portions of it. In include a map below, to show how these resources are geographically distributed (it doesn't work on all browsers, unfortunately).
Conferences: childcare on site or childcare grants
last update: 4.11.2015
Biology and chemistry
Physics and Astronomy
Geophysics and Geoscience
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada - Canada (search "childcare")
Institutions & others
Blog posts & other
(I include some posts found online on the topic. I don't necessarily share all the views of the authors of the following posts)