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Looking for other professor mamas

post #1 of 409
Thread Starter 
Hi there. I just got my first tenure-track job and have a 7 month old. It is daunting to say the least and I am overwhelmed by the whole tenure process. Are there other mamas out there who want to share in my anxiety?
post #2 of 409
Hi Rachel! Congratulations on the tenure track job! What field are you in? When do you start?

I'm a geophysicist in my second year in a tt position. My son was born 3 months ago, so I'm on "leave" (=no teaching, frantic attempt to get my lab going) this quarter. I start teaching again the end of this month. The tenure process has me freaked out. I already have funding, but I'm struggling to get my papers out the door. I have an extra year for the tenure process, so my 4-year review is delayed until '09 and my manditory tenure review is delayed until 2111. It seems so far off, but I submit my 4 year dossier in the fall of '08, so I've got two years to get a sh$t load of work done.
post #3 of 409
Oh yeah. Step 1: Secure on campus daycare.

Even if you don't have a contract signed, see about getting on the waiting list. University daycares tend to be excellent and have monsterous waiting lists. Enlist the help of a dean to get you in if possible.

Learn from my mistakes.

I'm taking E with me to work until it gets to the point that I can't get work done. I have sitters who watch him while I'm in the lab playing with lasers and chemicals. After that, I have my fingers crossed for the on campus daycare, otherwise we'll be looking for a nanny or home-based care. We're happy with my daughter's care situation, but that center just isn't great for those tiny babies.
post #4 of 409
Well I'm in my fifth year of a 6 year process. So by this time next year I will either have tenure (in which case I will become a complete slacker and will never do anything else that does not interest me professionally ) or I will be denied tenure and will have a year to get out. This is my first tenure track job. I wasn't that freaked out about it until about the last year or so as the "up or out" part of the process came closer.

My DD was just over a year when I got here and my DS was born in 2003. I had the option to stop the tenure clock for that year when I took maternity leave (I took 10 weeks and worked PT for another 6 before coming back full time). However everyone told me I was doing great and there was no need to stop the tenure clock. So I didn't and now I REALLY wish I had. I think I would have had a little bit more breathing room then.
post #5 of 409
KM ~ I got the same advice from my chair. He said that as it was, I was on track to go up early. The advice I got from other moms was to get as much wiggle room as possible.
post #6 of 409
KM, Geofizz, and any others: Can we talk more about stopping the tenure clock?

interesting that this is so strongly advised, and in fact is one of the main recommendations that comes out of the academic-women-in-science studies. Also interesting that few pre-tenure women choose to take the option, at least that's my impression.

Wiggle room. what does this mean exactly, and how flexible is it? For example, if you elect to stop the clock, but then find that at year 6 you are in fact on track for tenure, can you change your mind? Is this something that must be negotiated up-front or is it the kind of thing where you can wait and see how it goes?

And speaking of negotiation - what kinds of considerations are important for a new prof. momma to-be? i.e., reasonable teaching responsibilities, service, etc. within the first __(?) months, say including the last bit of pregnancy? maybe that's a separate thread, but I'm woefully ignorant and would be interested in hearing!
post #7 of 409
Quote:
Originally Posted by cj_gobigirl
KM, Geofizz, and any others: Can we talk more about stopping the tenure clock?

interesting that this is so strongly advised, and in fact is one of the main recommendations that comes out of the academic-women-in-science studies. Also interesting that few pre-tenure women choose to take the option, at least that's my impression.

Wiggle room. what does this mean exactly, and how flexible is it? For example, if you elect to stop the clock, but then find that at year 6 you are in fact on track for tenure, can you change your mind? Is this something that must be negotiated up-front or is it the kind of thing where you can wait and see how it goes?
You definitely need to check the contract. Don't know if this is typical, but here, yes you could go up "early" for tenure, except that you have to notify them of your intent a full year before you do it. So you'd have to feel confident at year 5 that you would get a positive review.

As I said, I regret not having stopped the tenure clock, and would advise others to seriously consider it. If I don't get tenure next year In guess I'll regret it even more. Don't know that I would have had any backlash for doing it-- I suspect not a lot. But at the time, everyone told me there was no need as I was making good preogress and all my reviews have been positive. Here we get reviewed at 2, 4, and 6.

I'll be intertested to hear what others have to say on this.
post #8 of 409
:
I might yet become a prof. I'm an ABD in geology. Looking for a job.
post #9 of 409
glad to have this going. i'm tenure track, but at a community college much less stress. although i feel very lucky to have a job with great flexibility and understanding colleagues, i'm interested in hearing more from academic moms.
post #10 of 409
Quote:
Originally Posted by cj_gobigirl
And speaking of negotiation - what kinds of considerations are important for a new prof. momma to-be? i.e., reasonable teaching responsibilities, service, etc. within the first __(?) months, say including the last bit of pregnancy? maybe that's a separate thread, but I'm woefully ignorant and would be interested in hearing!
Oh and another thing you might want to consider is your start date and review cycle. Here the review period is Sept to Sept. I started in July, and didn't get reviewed that first year as I had only been here a few months. But then when I did get reviewed the following year it was my SECOND year review, even though I had only been here 15 mos. And that means in the 6 year cycle I have even less time up front. If I had fully understood that I would have waited and started in September. Live and learn. But others may learn from this mistake, I hope.
post #11 of 409
Quote:
Originally Posted by KalamazooMom
Oh and another thing you might want to consider is your start date and review cycle.
good point - I made the same mistake but in the opposite sense... started in January but the tenure clock didn't start to until the following fall. The productivity during the first 8 months was sort of like a bonus, but on the other hand I was working hard and would have been happy to start getting credit for the 'time'!
post #12 of 409
I made the same mistake. My tenure probationary period is chopped by 3 months, not as bad as KM's, but still "I wish someone would have told me..."

Quote:
And speaking of negotiation - what kinds of considerations are important for a new prof. momma to-be? i.e., reasonable teaching responsibilities, service, etc. within the first __(?) months, say including the last bit of pregnancy? maybe that's a separate thread, but I'm woefully ignorant and would be interested in hearing!
A lot of these things are hard to negotiate and put into a contract. Teaching assignments are generally done on a yearly schedule, and there's a general attitude of "you'll do the teaching that needs to be done." I tried and failed to get a guarentee for on-campus daycare into my contract. I suggest trying, though. Depending on your field, you might also ask for additional money in start up to pay grad students. As a parent (possibly delaying tenure) it might take you longer to get funding going.

From the point of view of being a parent, teaching classes that meet for longer, less frequently is a big plus. It gives you more uninturrupted hours for your own work. Also, as a pipe dream, work to move those "required" time commitments like faculty meetings and dept seminars to the 9-5 block. It's really hard, though. I have to get up and leave before the end of faculty meetings. Even though I do this with the chair's understanding, it just doesn't look good.
post #13 of 409
RachelW: I forgot to say, I sympathize with anxiety about a career that can be very demanding... but am also excited for you - congratulations on the job! Thanks for starting this thread
post #14 of 409
Hi everyone! Thanks for starting this thread!

I am in year one on the TT, at a new university. I already had 3 years at another institute (also TT), and was there when I had my son in late 2003.

Re. stopping the tenure clock: This was a new option at my previous job, and I was the first person to apply for it. We did have the ability to go up early if our progress was good. I think the flexiblity is worth it, and I definitely had a hard time getting my labwork going, plus teaching during that first year back. I was also offered time towards tenure at my current position (going up at 4 vs. 6 years), and I declined because of my child (and hoping for another, we're currently TTC). Several faculty did not understand this AT all, but that's OK. Perhaps I should not have been so open.

Here are a few other things that have come up for me:
-recruiting for other positions. There is a huge expectation at both my jobs that people will be available for entertaining candidates. I tried a couple of dinners when I had no chance to meet during the day, and these were disasters for my husband! So- now I'm the first to sign up for B-fast or lunch so that I can still fulfill my obligations.

-course scheduling: I second the longer classes, fewer days option. I have had schedules where I was teaching EVERY day, and this about killed me with prep at night. I also think getting help for the grading (if this is an option) can be great for the easy to grade papers. We can apply for student assistance for this here. I am at a high teaching load but still significant research expectations institute (non-research I) and I've been absolutely buried with papers at times.

-timing of the birth of the next baby. This can't always be planed obviously , but we are on the quarter system here, and I really want to have the next baby in March/April so that I have both Spring quarter and Summer quarter off. I am on a 9 mo. contract, so this works. We'll see though, as much control as I'd like to have- life often has other plans!

Congrats on the jobs everyone- I am getting tired of hoop-jumping, and hope that this is the last of it!

Candace
post #15 of 409
Really old thread, that probably only applies to a few of us, BUT I thought I'd revive it and see what happens. I received my PhD last Dec and am currently finishing year 1 of a 2 year postdoc. I just put in a grant to NIH that (if funded will support me for the next 3 years. However, recognizing what the curent funding situation is like, I am also exploring academic positions. I am not a mama yet, but I am actively TTC and hope to be a mom (or at least pg) by this time next year. I guess I am interested in 1). finding support and sharing with other academics; 2). hearing what your experiences were like interviewing and starting your job (either with young babes, pregnant, or TTC); 3). knowing how you handled childcare etc.; 4). learning more about balancing the mommy track with tenure track; 5). anything else you want to share. Thanks!
post #16 of 409
Hi Emily!

Do you have PI status on that grant proposal?
post #17 of 409
Not a professor, but do any of you read Bitch, PhD? It's one of my favorite blogs.

www.bitchphd.com
post #18 of 409
GeoFizz - I DO have PI status. It is actually an F32 (postdoc NRSA). I had an F31 as a predoc and LOVED the freedom it provided (all research all the time, no teaching! Yay!).

zinemama - I will have to check out bitchphd. Thanks for the recommendation
post #19 of 409
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
Not a professor, but do any of you read Bitch, PhD? It's one of my favorite blogs.

www.bitchphd.com
I like that one too. Also, I like Gingajoy:

gingajoy.blogspot.com
post #20 of 409
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
Not a professor, but do any of you read Bitch, PhD? It's one of my favorite blogs.

www.bitchphd.com
That link isn't working for me--it's not taking me to a blog. Is the Web address slightly different? I'm really interested to read it.

Glad to see this thread revived. Like roryandme, I currently teach at a community college. I am tenured (we like to call DS the "tenure baby") and so there's less stress on that front, but due to DH's academic career, we may or may not need to move and I might be on the TT again at some point. (sigh) I'm interested to read about how you prof mamas do it all...
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