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Women in Science

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Video clip: Bryony doesn’t think she is very good at her work-life balance, partly because she commutes from London. As a post doc she works less at weekends than when she was doing her doctorate.

Can you tell me a little bit about work-life balance? You said you had to work terribly hard during your PhD, has it changed at all?

I’m not very good at my work-life balance. I think it’s my fault. I tend to work quite long hours. I think in a way this comes from my parents being farmers, so they have always worked very long days and working weekends is perfectly normal, especially during the summer when it’s harvest. And so for me, kind of a 9-5, and a Monday to Friday job has never been normal.


And I actually think the more I go on, the more that impacts how I view a normal working day. So I get to work very early because I have quite a long commute. So when I started commuting, I commute from London to Oxford, I said to my boyfriend that I would make sure that I left work at a decent hour, which very rarely happens. So I don’t tend to get home until half past eight or nine and at the moment that’s fine. I’ve been with the same person throughout my PhD and from undergrad as well actually and he sort of took it with my PhD and said, ‘Well, that’s fair enough. I know you’re going to have to work hard.’ And since I’ve been a postdoc I think, he’s made a few comments about the fact that maybe it would be nice if I got home a little earlier.


So I don’t have a particularly good work-life balance I think, but that’s probably my fault.

Do you try and keep weekends clear of work?

I have more, as a postdoc I work less weekends. As a biologist, I work on a lot of different cell types and sometimes they need to be, they need attention over the weekend. But when I was doing my PhD I would go in for six, seven hours on a Saturday to do a full experiment. Now if I have to come to Oxford, I will pop in for an hour and not really do any more than that. But I avoid it. I definitely don’t work as many weekends as I used to.