The burden of caring

September 11, 2014

While the article “Home truths” (Features, 4 September), which explored the struggle to balance an academic career and parenthood, was interesting, a great many words have already been devoted to the topic.

Perhaps a more neglected event that will affect many (more?) of us is how to balance an academic career with increased caring responsibilities for an ageing parent? I’m sure I would not be the only person interested in hearing the views of this oft neglected group, particularly given that the responsibility typically falls to women. For many women, it would seem that just as childcare issues begin to wane, the issue of caring for an ageing parent comes to the fore.

Advice and views would be welcome, as would the inclusion of such a policy in university guidelines.

Jo Saunders
Senior lecturer
School of Psychological Sciences and Health
University of Strathclyde

 

I was already a professor by the time we had children. We did not plan it that way, it was determined by the time in our lives when we met. Before children arrived, my partner and I routinely worked evenings and at least one day of the weekend (my wife was then a lawyer), so the change [in our lives] was fairly sudden.

I think that having children made me more focused. I’m not claiming that I had the same level of commitment as my wife, but I think I did my bit. This is still the case now – when I am working I am focused and I don’t waste time at work, or when I’m working at home. I suspect I may be slightly shorter with colleagues as a result, but rather that than missing time with my family.

The first time the work-life balance became an issue was when I became one of the people that first my dean and then the vice-chancellor wanted to wheel out in front of “suits”. I also spent a short time as interim dean, and during this period agreed to “miss no more than one bathtime a week”. This was largely adhered to, but with European deans’ meetings, accreditation visits, plus my usual conferences, I was away more than I would have wanted.

Nigel Driffield
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest