regina's timeline

Regina worked professionally in North America before moving away from a close-knit family to do her Master’s and there met her partner. After her Master’s, she got a national fellowship to do a PhD and though she could have gone anywhere to do the degree she stayed in the university where she was, given her partner and her circle of friends. She imagined a research-teaching position afterwards. She joined the Canadian study in the 3rd year of the degree and graduated when she was 30.

What struck us about Regina’s story was: 

Career and work decisions made around children. 

Learning institutional ropes during the degree and networking extensively beyond the institution in her post-PhD position. 

Negotiating time for her own research and building competitive profile slowly but consistently. 

 

PhD

Year 3

PhD

Year 4

PhD

Year 5

 Post-PhD

 

Year 1

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

Post-PhD

 

Year 3

Post-PhD

 

Year 4

Post-PhD

Year 5

 

PhD

Year 3

Partner constant source of support.

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Did literature review she saw as potentially publishable, a scholarly contribution.

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Peers in research team supportive; supervisor extremely supportive.

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Sought out contacts with other professors; interested in how senior females handled academic work; involved in student governance.

Knew university offered little support for thinking about future careers; needed to make own opportunities.

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Comprehensive exams(1) and dissertation provided ideas for rest of academic career.

Saw her future as an academic.

(1) Comprehensive exams (demonstrating depth and breadth of knowledge) are a required element of most North American PhDs. They must be completed successfully before doing a thesis     proposal defence (which is similar to a transfer of status).

 

PhD

Year 4

Moved to other city to co-locate with partner who had new job.

Moving meant loosing peers, sense of isolation.

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Worked on thesis proposal.

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Biggest challenge to write and get published.

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Became engaged, had operation that resolved health issues.

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PhD

Year 5

Got married.

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Focused on finishing dissertation.

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Wanted to raise children close to her family.

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Began job seeking in city where they hoped to live.

 Post-PhD

 

Year 1 

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Submitted dissertation.

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Used network to learn about job opportunities.

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Applied for post-doc fellowship and 2 research-teaching positions tangential to expertise; not offered positions.

Fellowship not offer maternity leave so declined it.

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Awarded postdoc fellowship.

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Negotiated doing own research as part of job.

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Arranged university appointment as adjunct to engage in others’ research, seek funding for own research.

 
 

Post-PhD

Year 2

Settled into her new home.

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Highly invested in job; new type of position; with colleague, got the work up and running.

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Re-worked fellowship research to do without funding; expanded network.

Viewed herself as academic on untraditional trajectory; would ultimately achieve her goal.

Took maternity leave hoping to find time to work on research.

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Turning down fellowship was right choice terms as regards what was most important - family life.

 Post-PhD

Year 3 

Good arrangement for child’s care.

Returned to work; great support, lots of freedom and trust to be self-directed.

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Pregnant again.

Immediately immersed herself in advancing her paid position and university affiliations.

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Wrote grant applications; slowly conducted fellowship study; set Friday as her research day.

When retired, wanted to have contributed a research strand to knowledge.

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New work stressors such as budget cuts; thought more about finance and politics than before.

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Aimed to make writing part of routine to have more publications to be competitive for grants.

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Realised she might be signing up for too much, but never worked weekends; protected valuable family time.

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Wanted 3 or 4 children; a juggling act she felt would work out fine.

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Happy with job; imagined staying unless research-teaching position came up locally (unlikely).

 
 

Post-PhD

Year 4

Took shorter maternity leave.

Stayed involved in projects at work.

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Good childcare arrangements and family support; ensured home in time for important routines with children.

Returned to work happily.

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Began new projects; established collaborative relationships both at work and neighbouring universities.

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New publications and grants as co-investigator; hoped both would make her competitive for grant as principal investigator.

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Post-PhD

Year 5

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Applied for and got research-teaching position at local university.

 

What struck us

Career and work decisions made around children.

Learning institutional ropes.

Networking extensively beyond the institution.

Negotiating time for her own research.

Building competitive profile slowly but consistently.

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Researcher Identity Development (2017). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License