I am 30 and about to finish my PhD and have a relatively good cv. I have recently found out that I am pregnant (due in mid May) and about to hit the job market in these next few months after my final exam. I think my worries are the same as all women in that I worry that my cv will no longer become valuable and I don’t know what to do next as I’d really like to work in something I enjoy and worry that all employers maybe different. My partner is supportive of me working and doing whatever I’d like to do and says I will be able to still get employment. He is also a student and will not complete his studies for another two years. I wonder if anyone can offer advice as I’ve read so many articles and I think I’d really like help to both be a mum but also do something I enjoy without feeling bad. I already know I won’t be able to pursue a career in academia/research which is what I set out to do a few years ago as my supervisors haven’t been supportive, but also because it can be hard in this sector for those with families.
Firstly, many congratulations on your pregnancy and for the near completion of your PhD, two fantastic milestones!. As you know these types of life events can also result in a real mix of emotions, including excitement and elation, but also trepidation around the future which is completely understandable.
You mention your initial desire to continue your career in academia and it is really disappointing to hear that you have not found your supervisors supportive. However, if this is something you really wish to pursue you need not restrict your search for an academic/ research post to your current institution. Your geographical location is such that it is well served by many other institutions that you could approach proactively for opportunities?
Advice from one of our own female academics here at the OU is that whilst it is still challenging, the outlook for women researchers is now far more positive than it was fifteen years ago. There are more part-time research positions advertised and there is active campaigning to get women returners back into academia. In fact, in many ways the flexible nature of the work may lend itself to balancing work and life.
Have a look at the following article from The Guardian, whilst a few years old, the advice remains sound. It’s great to hear that you have a supportive partner and interestingly Melissa Terras cites this as one of the most important contributing factors to her success.
Finally, it isn’t clear from your email what else you may consider doing? Whilst your CV focuses on your academic achievements it also demonstrates some great experience and very valuable transferable skills which can be utilised outside the teaching and education sector. Recent findings suggest that more that 25% of PhD graduates work in the science and pharmaceuticals industry alone. A fact that has probably been prompted by the private sector becoming more research-orientated in the past few years. Getting support from your own University Careers Service to explore opportunities, look at your CV and identify your skills will certainly help here.
I hope that this begins to help and I would encourage you to make contact with your own Careers Service to continue to explore your options. In the meantime best wishes for your pregnancy and the completion of your PhD! Both fantastic and life changing in their own ways!
*Alex Hession answered this question. She is a Careers and Employability Consultant at The Open University.