Family Friendly Research to boost Science Careers of Women

The balance between professional and personal life plays a key role for successful careers of European researchers, especially for women scientists. As far as employment and reconciliation of work and life are concerned, female employment rates remain low especially in Southern Europe and East Europe and in general even more for women with low education. Antidiscrimination laws have been adopted, but gender gaps are still large. Lack of child care services and care facilities for the elderly combined with rigid work arrangements make it hard to reconcile work and family life.

The secret to making family life compatible with an academic career

EuroScientist celebrates International Women’s Day 2017 by covering a study giving food for thought on the issue of work/life balance for career scientists. Germany has traditionally looked down on mothers pursuing their career in the immediate few years after their children were born. However, a new survey by the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) shows that there are several key factors influencing researchers to stay in academia. These include the ability to self-determine their working hours, a flexible workplace and the existence of a long-term professional perspective. Clearly, respondents to the survey from both genders appear to strive for a better work/life balance. But it may take another generation for old habits to die.

Does mobility boost early scientific careers?

Young scientists are expected to change country and jobs every few years on average to get a chance to progress their academic career. Mobility in science stems from a long tradition. It is favoured for bringing very enriching experiences. But post docs and their scientific work do not always benefit from mobility. Here, EuroScientist looks into how being on the move every few years affects the life of researchers and looks at ways of enhancing work/life balance.

Inadequate childcare policies affect scientists’ careers

The inadequacy of childcare policies across Europe, means that scientists who do not wish to be away from their lab for too long are struggling to balance their life as parents and as researchers. There are still some significant decisions concerning harmonisation of such childcare provision to be made in Europe, while further policy support would be welcome.

Personal options in science careers

To reach a work/life balance, scientists need to learn how to create options. They need new ways of understanding how we invest in time, money or energy. They, also need to think carefully about the communities within which we are embedded. It is therefore essential to know how to make career decisions in conditions of uncertainty, by weighting the relative benefits of options.

Germany: the career challenges of a single academic track

A recent petition seeking government support to establish more permanent jobs and to limit the number of short term contracts in science and technology positions in Germany has already gathered over 10,000 signatures. It was initiated on 7th March 2014 by a German scientist called Sebastian Raupach, who wrote a letter addressed to the vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, and to the country’s federal minister for education and research, Johanna Wanke. This petition reflects the growing unrest among scientists regarding the limited career path in Germany.

Science Career

Not having a defined career structure, is for many scientists in Europe today, a frustrating reality. This special issue of the Euroscientist explores key elements of the state of scientific careers in Europe to help our readers define their own career strategy. It features views from expert on how the changes in society, affected by both technology and the recession, are changing the nature of work practices. It also focuses on what remains to be done for scientists to be able work seamlessly across the European continent. And it also discusses issues facing those who wish to stay in academia and those who are seeking opportunities outside.

Removing some uncertainty from the career equation

Not having a defined career structure, is for many scientists in Europe today, a frustrating reality.

One might argue that quantum physicists might tolerate this level of uncertainty better than others. Yet, this trend seems to be here to stay.

In this special issue of the Euroscientist, we explore the shift in the working culture of our society affecting scientists. This results in changes imposed by both the global economic context and the evolution of technology. Thus, scientists’ career paths increasingly look like a collection of collaborations with one-off research projects with a set duration.

Career transition: chance favours the prepared mind

As Louis Pasteur once said, “chance only favours the prepared mind”. This applies to the field of scientific discovery as well as to career management. Alas, young scientists very often lack the methods to steer their own career. Our experience of helping PhDs find jobs outside academia shows that once young scientists realise that these methods are quite simple to learn, their quest for a dream job becomes easier.