The single parent trap

July 23, 2015

I like the honesty in Nicole Westmarland’s article (“Life after loss”, Opinion, 18 June).

It was recommended to me because of my despair at being a final-stage PhD student and a single parent while looking for academic jobs. I am angry about the amount of roles listing out-of-hours work as an essential criterion on job specifications. I am angry that most conferences/seminars at my Russell Group institution coincide with nursery closing time, meaning that I have to leave the events I can attend about 20 minutes after they have started. I feel excluded from academic life and trying to network through social media makes me feel more lonely and frustrated.

It is pleasing to hear that academics such as Westmarland are challenging conventions and managing, as a newly single parent, to thrive in academia. I think it is important to challenge the after-5pm research culture and academic norms that prevent early career researchers with children from progressing.

I know that as a single parent at the outset of my career I will never be able to progress as far as securing a professorship because of the way academia is structured.

Sarah Bennison
Via timeshighereducation.co.uk

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