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Finding work in bio, with kids

Chuck Gasser csgasser at ucdavis.edu
Wed Mar 22 13:54:19 EST 1995

My wife and I are currently both tenured professors at the University
of California, Davis.  We have a 13 month old daughter.  Since her
birth we have had to (and have wanted to!) significantly cut into our
work time.  We have tried to mitigate this by adjusting our teaching
schedules so that our heaviest loads don't overlap.  In the Fall I have
my largest teaching load and she took more responsibility for our
daughter so I could do some work (usually at home) on nights and
weekends.  Winter quarter she has been the one who needed and took the
extra time.  The staggering of our teaching schedules also ensures that
one of us is always able to stay home in an emergency.  We both have
found that we must work very efficiently during the day to prevent
falling too far behind (we both felt behind even when we could work
three of four weekends!).
Our daughter is cared for during the day by a woman in the woman's
home.  She also cares for three other children, with some help from her
own children.  She is absolutely wonderful and we couldn't ask for a
better caregiver.  She will still take kids with colds, but not with a
significant fever.  She additionally considers this a business and
arranges for alternate care, subject to our approval, when she takes a
vacation or cannot take care of the kids for some reason.  She seems to
have excellent knowledge of the things necessary to promote
intellectual and emotional development in infants and toddlers.  In
addition our daughter now knows nearly as many Spanish words as
English!  Her own children are wonderful and made us very comfortable
about leaving our daughter in her care.
Daycare in this area ranges from around $400 - $700 per month and is
very available.
In our relationship, my wife had sole decision making power over when
and whether we would have a child.  We both had taken time off prior to
grad school.  Following grad school we each went where we thought we
would best prepare ourselves for the tough trial eventually finding
jobs together. As a result we spent five years living in different
parts of the country, effectively precluding having children during
this postdoctoral period.   Our choice paid off in that we were able to
obtain offers of two REAL positions at three different locations.  We
chose Davis and, as a result of our earlier choices, were were somewhat
older than the average assistant professors when we started.  The first
years of assistant professorship were too trying to think about
children.  When things settled down my wife decided she was ready to
have a baby.  She was tenured during gestation.  Far from being upset
by my wife having a baby our department gave our daughter a big party
which was attended by all the faculty!
Yes, it would be nice to have had the opportunity to raise a child
earlier, but our lab lives are much easier now than they were three
years ago and we are much more efficient in preparing for teaching as
well.  I think we can now give our daughter the attention she deserves.
 We are both very happy to have successful careers and to have a
wonderful daughter.  Thus, having kids later in your career can work
out too!

Chuck Gasser
csgasser at ucdavis.edu

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