I’m an Alien

feel like I inhabit a different planet when I read these reports. I can’t relate to a single word of this thing. 

A day doesn’t go by without me thanking my lucky stars for landing me in a profession that lets me spend tons of time with my kid, read kilos of books for fun, and indulge my passion for watching tons of trashy TV and wander about aimlessly. And travel to places like the DR, calling it “work.” 

How is it possible to have such diametrically opposed experiences?


5 thoughts on “I’m an Alien”

  1. I can relate to the part about the presumably well-meaning comments, but they are really such a minor part of my work. In the seven years that I have been in my academic position, I have gotten maybe seven of them, and the people who make these comments are really just stupid.

    But other than that one bit, I cannot relate to the rest of it either. I realized what a great work-life balance an academic job offers after I had a kid.

    Other than a few hours a week, I literally have nowhere that I have to be, and nothing that I have to do. I cannot think of any other profession that offers this amount of flexibility. After they had kids, many of my (women) friends who were doctors and engineers either ended up switching to less demanding career tracks; those who didn’t hardly get to see their kids at all! As an academic, I ended up ramping up my research after my daughter was born, and I get to see her so much more! If that isn’t having it all, then I don’t know what is.


    1. That’s exactly how I feel. It’s wonderful to be able to just stay home with Klara when she isn’t feeling well or when I’m not feeling like taking her to daycare. And I keep doing all the research I want.

      My husband has a very good employer but still, he’s out of the house from 8 am to 7 pm (there is a long commute.) If I had a job like his – meaning a regular non-academic job – it would be so much harder.

      Also, with a high-high-risk pregnancy like mine, when I had to be at the clinic 3 or sometimes 4 times a week, I have no idea how I’d swing it if I had a different kind of job.


  2. It all depends on how sexist your institution/department really is and whether you end up holding the service bag. I’ve worked at R1s and it was like this. But in the other places I’ve worked you have some flexibility in schedule, more than secretaries, but really need to be around and available pretty much 8-5. Then the big key is whether service/administration are shared or not, whether women are allowed on the prestige committees or not, etc.


  3. I think the flaw in the study is that they only surveyed women from one institution, if I’m remembering correctly. Not every place is terrible. Not every place is great. I’m not sure what your load is, Clarissa, but with a 4/4 load (where I am), I don’t have much time at all to spend with my kids. Some of that ends up being the pressure I put on myself — not because the school really cares that much about my research (or creative writing), but because I want to do it. If I only did what was required of me, I would have a pretty different life.

    The other thing, though is that up until this school year, I was never able to get anything done during the day because I was either tired from staying up all night working on something or I would be distracted, overwhelmed, or frustrated. The only thing that’s made a difference in my quality of life has been being medicated for ADHD. Now, I can actually get work done at school. If I weren’t doing research, I would have more time to spend with my kids. But I wouldn’t enjoy it because I’d feel like I’m not accomplishing my research/creative writing goals.

    The time that we do get to spend together is usually great. Like, being in Hawaii with them has been amazing. We have had so many great (and then, death-defying, experiences). But if I weren’t doing research, we would not have had the money or time to come to Hawaii. (I’m here for a conference, so my plane ticket and hotel, as well as food was paid for.) So sometimes, it works out.


  4. I saw this article the day I was asked to up my service percentage, since others aren’t or refuse to be competent to get the kind of service done that keeps the program running. Honestly, I was almost convinced because we need things done (I am weak). But I started getting really depressed because it was too much, and then I saw this article, which really opened my eyes and helped me say no.


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