Week 4: Issues and strategies for managing work in SET (III)

Make a list of the issues that relate to you in returning to SET employment. For example, what would be the barriers for you to work part time? Do they relate to the type of work you might do because of the need to work unsocial hours due to the continuous running of experiments in a laboratory for example, or are these barriers concerned more with attitudes of others to part time working, or the funding situation for research?

I’m in an odd position here in that I’m trying to plan for a return to SET before I have a family….  My current situation is a consenquence of following my partner’s career choice and location: it needed both of us to make this business a success.

My reading around the subject, including the last two papers mentioned, suggests that I am not alone in my concern that I have an impossible choice to make: I can either be a well-educated, successful career woman, or I can be a mother, but trying to combine both is likely to result in a greatly reduced chance of a successful career.  In addition, trying to balance the developmental needs of children with the time and emotional demands of a senior position, unless you choose to pay someone else to bring up your children, can result in both family and career suffering equally.

It seems that I am not the only woman who has come to the conclusion that neither option is good: the Herald published an article  highlighting the number of women who have chosen to leave corporate life and combine motherhood with self-employment.

 “It comes as no surprise to many high-powered businesswomen that their sisters are turning their backs on senior management positions in several major British companies.Tell them that the drop is 40% over the last five years, however, and there’s likely to be an audibly shocked intake of breath, followed by a list of the hostile elements of corporate culture.

That is one of the main factors driving more women to set up their own businesses: the number of self-employed women in the UK has recently risen above one million for the first time.”

 The research mentioned was done by Pricewaterhouse-Coopers:

It revealed senior management posts filled by women in Britain’s top 350 quoted companies has dropped from 38% in 2002 to 22%. Sarah Churchman, head of diversity at PwC, pinpoints a trend which suggests that there will be fewer women in the very top positions in the future.

‘Businesses tend to pay more attention to gender issues in senior positions and there appears to be an assumption that a supply from the middle ranks will eventually feed through. For big companies at least, this pipeline is shrinking at a worrying rate,’ she says.

So, the barriers to my re-entry into SET employment are:

  1. I currently live over 50 miles from the nearest potential SET employment as far as I can tell.

  2. I would need to bring in £30k a year to cover staffing to replace myself in the company.

  3. I would like, at some point, to make the change from couple to family.

  4. I am not prepared to work part-time if the result of that is the end of my chances of promotion.  I am ambitious and driven, and expect as much of colleagues as I do of myself: I suspect I would end up trying to do both jobs full-time, and burn myself out.

 Life’s a bitch, isn’t it?


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