Thursday, July 06, 2006

Work/home balance challenges

What do you think about this situation.....

I have a realative on the tenure track whose discipline seems to require a decent amount of travel for research purposes.... I say "seems" because this person isn't in my discipline and he lived in Europe doing research for his dissertation....

This person, now that he's Dr. Daddy, has two daughters. His oldest is 5, the younger one is 2. His wife does not work outwside the home. You can bet your ass she works inside the home -- a lot -- and is trying to start a small business doing photography in their home.

Dr. Mom (she isn't a PhD, an MA from Cambridge isn't bad --- and she earned the PhD along with her hubby... so I'll call her Dr. Mom.) has lived overseas three times with Dr. Dad. She currently lives quite a way from family who can help her with her small children -- although she's smart and makes friends easily so she has built yet another network of friends in her new location. Although she's doing well now, living abroad for a trailing spouse isn't a great deal and she had some pretty big challenges handling it...

This is the same person who can't manage to travel with Dr. Mom and the kids to wherever they go... he usually has some reason to catch up to them -- thus, avoiding travel with young kids... gag....

To add to the picture, Dr. Dad told hubby almost five years ago that he shouldn't take my needs into account when choosing grad schools (I was in a pretty significant life crisis at the time... we were at my sister's funeral... hubby was considering school close to mom and other family... ). His exact quote was, "don't worry about her (me) go to the best school you can get into."

I just found out that Dr. Dad is spending this summer abroad. It makes me mad.

I can't imagine leaving the country for a long period of time when your kids are 2 and 5. It wouldn't surprise me if he's going to be out of town when the older one starts school in the fall....

Granted, I'm not in his field so I don't know that his research couldn't be done via other sources --- and he's been on the track for three or four years -- so I'm sure he has book pressures etc... but it occurs to me that if Dr. Mom were the PhD, he wouldn't tolerate her leaving for the summer to go to Europe, nor would she consider going. I guess that he'd justify it to her and himself by saying that he's doing it for the family etc... and I guess the kids won't be that much older next year -- it just seems a bit selfish to me... but, maybe I'm wrong and too protective of Dr. Mom.

On the other hand, I figured out a while back a couple of things... since hubby and Dr. Dad have an unspoken competition...

1) Hubby's final degree is better in his field than Dr. Dad's is in his (very different... but relative rankings of grad programs)
2) Hubby has the inside track on a tenure track job before finishing his PhD..
3) Hubby didn't have to go on the market at all, the track to the tenure track job called HIM.
4) Hubby's TtTT school is ranked above Dr. Dad's.... they are actually similar schools, so the comparisons hold well there...

and hubby did that while also managing to make decisions that were and are good for me and my extended family.. hmmmm

take that Dr. Dad...

3 comments:

App Crit said...

Omigod, yes. That is a pattern I see all too often in the academy. To be fair, I see it fairly equally in junior scholars of both genders, although the consequences for family-minded scholars who are women is worse. (I've heard it said too many times by administrators that they are suspipcious of junior faculty who are women getting pregnant simply to push back the tenure clock. True!)

But, to be successful at most universities, or getting to the R1-type university, often demands people to give up family in this way. Search committees view an adjunct taking a position away from the spouse favourably!!

The sick thing? I could easily see this happening to me, if I were to stay in the academy much longer. I've seen it happen to friends from grad school.

The epilogue to Dr. Dad's story is the comparandum of how many faculty get divorced before being promoted to full.

Cheers

Tense Teacher said...

Perhaps in the 50s this was acceptable, but now...?
Ridiculous.

h de m said...

I considered being separated from my family for a time to do research. I'm not doing it, but I considered it. Reverse the genders, though.

Yes, then I'm a bad mother. Except this tenure track job really is how I support my kid, pay the rent, etc. So how bad am I?

I'm not defending Dr. Dad. It's just that it can be really hard to get tenure. There's a lot I will do for it. And because I'm a woman, I couldn't wait until after I got tenure to have kids. And because I don't have a whole lot of other job skills up my sleeve I have to put my all into this job. So, life is complicated is all I'm saying.

If I hadn't made family compromises, many different ones, I would not have a tenure track job let alone a shot at tenure. So I guess I could blame myself or else I could look at the profession and think it's mighty screwed up.