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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lilahh View Post
    Academia is cutthroat for women: if you have 1-2 years off to have a baby, it is extremely difficult to get back into the field; publications mean everything and you have to have them every year. I have many female friends in the science doing their PhDs/Postdocs and they have decided to never have children so they can be committed to their careers. It might be different in humanities, but in sciences, it's all the same. Baby = career death.

    Not trying to scare you: I just honestly don't know many fields of employment that are as tough to juggle parenting and success as academia. I really hope it start to change soon, it;s total bull**** for women.

    If I was going to pick when to have a baby, I would have one during my PhD rather than after, as getting a science Post-doc all comes down to riding off the publications from your PhD. If you take 1-2 years off between PhD and post-doc [and have no publications coming out] you are in real trouble.
    Lilahh this advice is so great! I know that you need to publish publish publish and I've heard (and read) that taking time off to have a baby after studying can absolutely kill your career - your peers get ahead of you very quickly and they leave you behind, it's all so competitive. I agree, it is total crap for women, especially as many of them coming through are at the age where they want to have kids and some feel the need to make a decision of one or the other, it sucks. This is why I have been so stuck with deciding what we should do.

    How did you find juggling the time between studying and spending time with your baby? Do you think it is (or would be) "easier" (its never easy, but do you know what I mean?) to study when they are younger?

    I have issues with fertility as well (not really bad ones, but could cause some issues with conceiving) which is also making me feel somewhat pressured to have kids soon and not wait.

    Thanks so much for your advice, it's really helped me out and put things into perspective.

    (sorry to hijack SammyP).
    Last edited by sunnyd; 20-11-2012 at 13:33.

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    Lilahh  (20-11-2012)

  3. #12
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    My son wasn't planned, it was a total shock, so my perspective might be different to someone wanting to TTC, and Im also really disillusioned with my field at the moment, I feel basically like my two bachelors and honours degree and PhD have been a big fat waste of time, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

    I would never, ever regret having a child. I would always, always regret choosing ANY career over kids. If academia won't support mothers, then **** academia. That's my attitude. I recommend waiting till the 12 months wait period for mat leave on the APA is up (i.e fall pregnant 3 months into your PhD) and see how you go from there. It's best to drag out the PhD and get 1-2 kids out of the way before submitting, so you can go straight into a post-doc.

    My son was 10 months when I went back full-time and I didn't put him into daycare until was nearly 2 years old, and only for 2 days a week. The first 18 months of my PhD was absolute hell. My son didn't sleep through until 15 months (was breastfeeding 2-5x still during the night) and then after that he was a toddling little bub who demanded my attention. I reckon I slept maybe 5 hours a night on average for 2.5 years. I had an absolute breakdown from depression and anxiety that stemmed from utter exhaustion. I gave my PhD and my son everything and left nothing to myself.

    It was the hardest time of my life.

    Having said all that, I don't know if I'd do it differently, because I am turning 28 next year and I have a 3.5 year old and a PhD... that's a nice achievement list for my age. The cost was my sanity and at times, even my very identity.

    I'm just trying to warn you. It's bloody frigging hard work. Definitely consider part-time and taking extended breaks if needed. At the end of the day, your mental health matters the most, followed by your children. If you want children, do not hesitate or delay. IMHO, no job is worth that sacrifice. Not even my PhD, which is a great accomplishment by any yardstick, contains a shred of the pride or joy I get from my son doing the simplest things. 1000 PhDs aren't even worth just 10 minutes with my son. I mean that.
    Last edited by Lilahh; 20-11-2012 at 18:30.

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    HLE  (20-11-2012),sunnyd  (20-11-2012)

  5. #13
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    Default How hard is a PhD?

    This is definitely a huge concern for me, if I stop to have babies ill never get a job in my chosen field.

    I want children so I guess it will just happen

  6. #14
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    Lilahh thanks for such useful and helpful advice, i think you have really helped me make up my mind. It really helps to hear from someone who has actually done it - the PhD AND the kids. No one I actually know has - all the female academics I know are childless (not surprising, but it is disheartening), or they have attained a PhD in something other than the sciences, which at times is not always comparable.

    I definitely think I am up for the challenge of having kids and finishing my PhD (I am pretty determined) but you are so right about being careful about mental health and it's something I need to work on before I get pregnant. I learnt the (very) hard way during honours (for various reasons, but the crux is that I let work consume me) and balancing work and relationships/family is definitely something I need to work on before I can consider adding a baby to the mix. The thing that scares me the most is telling my supervisors I am pregnant (when it happens) - eek.

    I think I will wait until 6-12 months in - most of my experiments will be over by the end of next year if it goes well (plus I will get mat leave), I need to be careful about chemical exposure before/during pregnancy so I am going to see if I can get all my lab work out of the way and then get pregnant (although my GP has said not to worry about chemicals and we can find a way...). That way I am at the analyses/writing up stage which can be done from home. Good in theory but we will see how it goes, fingers crossed.

    All I can say is - you must be so proud of all of your achievements - as well as the others that have replied in this thread - you guys did the baby and the PhD - wow, I am pretty impressed hey! Hopefully I can do it too.

    SammyP good luck with your decision too, we need more women making the decision to have a family and a career in science - something needs to change!
    Last edited by sunnyd; 20-11-2012 at 21:30.

  7. #15
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    Another word of warning. While I was on leave looking after my DD another thesis very similar to mine was published in the UK. So I'll have to make major changes to mine, which is an absolute PITA because I was quite close to submitting.

  8. #16
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    Just wanted to update from the otherside (aka reality)

    I finished writing my thesis a few weeks ago and I am submitting next month. The feeling of finishing writing a PhD cannot be described. Emotional! I am currently frantically trying to find a job because my scholarship finishes when I submit and it's an absolute nightmare. My experience now that I am finished is that unless you can commit to a post-doc (I turned two down because they were international/interstate and I can't move due to child-related reasons) you should reconsider doing a PhD. There isn't a need for a PhD unless you want to do a post-doc which I currently cannot commit to... and I keep getting rejected from general research jobs because I'm too overqualified. Go figure.

    At least I'm done. A 3.5 year old and a PhD. Time to sleep.

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    OJandMe  (31-01-2013)

  10. #17
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    Default How hard is a PhD?

    Congrats Lilahh! I'm a uni lecturer so I've seen the attrition rate of students across an undergrad, post grad then PhD, and I can appreciate the sacrifices you must have made to get where you are. What a wonderful achievement!!

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    Lilahh  (26-02-2013)

  12. #18
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    Default Re: How hard is a PhD?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilahh View Post
    Just wanted to update from the otherside (aka reality)

    I finished writing my thesis a few weeks ago and I am submitting next month. The feeling of finishing writing a PhD cannot be described. Emotional! I am currently frantically trying to find a job because my scholarship finishes when I submit and it's an absolute nightmare. My experience now that I am finished is that unless you can commit to a post-doc (I turned two down because they were international/interstate and I can't move due to child-related reasons) you should reconsider doing a PhD. There isn't a need for a PhD unless you want to do a post-doc which I currently cannot commit to... and I keep getting rejected from general research jobs because I'm too overqualified. Go figure.

    At least I'm done. A 3.5 year old and a PhD. Time to sleep.
    congratulation Lilahh!~

    Sent from my Transformer Prime TF201 using BubHub

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    Lilahh  (26-02-2013)

  14. #19
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    Default How hard is a PhD?

    Wow! That's awesome! I'm inspired. I'm thinking of starting mine in the next year..

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    Lilahh  (26-02-2013)

  16. #20
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    Default How hard is a PhD?

    Awesome work! I'm four weeks into a molecular genetics phd, pretty sure I'm over it already haha

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    Lilahh  (26-02-2013)


 

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