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Women in Science

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Video clip: Hazel explains how she manages to work part-time (80%) and how this has changed over the years as her children grew-up.

It sounds children and some caring responsibilities and a career and all the things, how, how [laughs] how is that managed? How do you…? Or do you, are you expected to manage a lot of the childcare at home or…?

Well, not, well, am I expected to, yes, quite often by the rest of society [laughs]. Possibly less so by my husband. I decided to work the, the 80% full time after the birth of my second child. At the time, my husband was in a job that would not allow him to work part time. He has fairly recently changed jobs to allow him to work part time so in the sense that balance has shifted from that point of view. And then there was a certain amount of throwing money at the problem in terms of employing a nanny when the children were young. As I say, in terms of the sort of pressure of responsibility, it's the wider society pressure in a way. The extended family but also just the expectation that if you're arranging playdates at the school, it's the mothers that talk to one another on the whole and those fathers that I know who have got primary caring responsibilities that can be a challenge for them.

Mm. Okay. When did you say you started part time?

Well the progression was after my first child was born I worked fifty per cent time for about six months and then went back full time and then about a year after returning full time had my second child and then after again period of maternity leave came back on eighty per cent time and have worked on that ever since. So that's thirteen years ago now.

Okay. When I talk to people about working part time in academia, it can be a very difficult thing to maintain in that the academic career life is a, can take up all of your time if you let it [laughs]. Let's put it like that and so how, are there any things that you do to make sure you maintain that eighty per cent or have that day off each week?

When the children were younger it was relatively easy because the other day a week although it was typically two half days where I had to pick up from school or I was, didn't have childcare or whatever, then you just have to be there for the children and that was the end of it. So there's no discussion. So it gets harder in sense now that they're teenagers because they are able to look after themselves. I don't have to be there on a day to day basis. They get themselves to and from school. It's harder potentially to maintain that balance. But on the other hand, I do try to do it just for my own interest, I do record my working hours and I do less I suspect than my colleagues do who are employed full time. But it's not eighty per cent of a thirty-seven-hour week, if you see what I mean.

It hasn't been so much a challenge to from that point of view I don't think and I would say I think with the Department on the whole has been very supportive about it. I haven't felt pressure to increase and to sort of consideration is always made when thinking about dumping out jobs and things. So that hasn't been so much the challenge. As I said, the challenge has been things like being able to go to conferences and things. If you've only got childcare for four days a week, then it's difficult then to travel to the States or whatever. So that's been where the challenge has been. But in some ways I would say it's been relatively easy. I don't have a tutorial fellowship, so I don't have the direct undergraduate teaching, the responsibilities these tutors have. Possibly that means my time is slightly more flexible from that point of view. But I've found it fairly straightforward to manage the part time in fact. I've had a number of people tell me of course it's impossible to do and at that point I tell them that I've been doing it for a while. And I know other examples. I don't think it's as impossible as people fear that it is.

Yes, yes I think the experiences I've heard about having good boundaries and making sure your colleagues respect when you're not in, you're not in and resisting the temptation to check your emails and doing all these little things that make sure that…

Yes, but I've never found that too much of challenge to be honest with you. When I'm at home, I've got plenty of things to be getting on with at home and I haven't found it too hard to, to do that. There's always pressures on us to do more, if you like, but I know full well that even if I work full time that pressure I don't think would be any different [laughs].