Thanks to Female Science Professor for sharing this post about a conversation she had with a male colleague. He displayed a curious lack of sympathy for a scientist who had compromised her career for her family:
I said: Think about how she feels. She has a PhD, did a postdoc, wrote some high profile papers, but then took a technician job at the institution where her husband is a big professor. She’s good enough to have been a professor in her own right, but instead she spends her days helping others do their research, with no hope of advancing in her career.
My colleague looked puzzled. He said: She has nothing to complain about. She has a job and she and her husband live in the same place.
That’s when Female Science Professor realized that her colleague’s attitude might result from the fact that he, like plenty of other academics, had made the opposite, but no less difficult, choice.
My colleague and his wife live several hours apart owing to complicated job/family issues. His wife is not an academic, but it still has not been possible for them to live in the same place for the past few years. He was thinking of the situation from the point of view of ‘how lucky this couple is to be together in the same location’.
Still, that’s all the more reason why he should appreciate the technician’s plight, Female Science Professor writes:
The reason my colleague and his wife live apart is because each of them would be unhappy if they gave up their present job and look a less desirable job in their spouse’s current city of residence.
Perhaps living apart is so difficult that his instinctive reaction involves his wish to live in the same place as his wife, rather than first considering the reality of what that would involve if his wife quit her job, moved to his city, and took a job she didn’t like. I am sure he is well aware of that, but his longing to have his family together dominates his feelings and point of view.
In the case of the technician, she probably compromised her top career choice because she thought it would be best for all concerned, and that can’t have been an easy thing to do, FSP writes. Others would be wise to keep that in mind.
Tell us about the career/family compromises that you’ve faced.