I think I’ve said before that I don’t want to do a post-doc, don’t want to do research at all once I finish my PhD.
I guess this makes me a drip (from the leaky pipeline of women in science).
Thing is, sometimes I get the feeling that research isn’t so bad and things are bound to get better after grad school. Everyone says that the end of grad school is a miserable experience. So, then I start thinking that maybe I could handle a job at a small liberal arts place with a small research program. But part of what makes me think I should try this is guilt.
I feel guilty for being a drip.
This is ridiculous, I know, but I feel like I’m letting down womankind by leaving research. How are we supposed to get more women in the upper echelons of science if we all just keep leaving? It makes me feel like I’m part of the problem. I should suck it up and stay.
But, I get the feeling that I would be miserable.
First, because I hate the failure associated with research. A large portion of what I do fails on a daily basis with no real explanation for why. That used to depress the hell out of me, but I think I’ve developed a thicker skin over the years and now it’s just frustrating.
Second, because I want to have children. Now. I just don’t think that being pregnant and giving birth would be conducive to getting a lot of research done as a post-doc. And, I’m 34 years old; I can’t afford to wait until I finish my post-doc, get a faculty position, and get tenure in order to have children. I know that doing all of those things is hard work, requiring long hours, and I don’t want to miss half of my children’s childhoods because I am always at work. And then, there’s childcare to think of. It’s damn expensive. Could we afford it? I mean, being a post-doc doesn’t pay all that much.
Third, because I see how hard it is to get a faculty position in the first place. Do I really want to go through a post-doc or two only to become a drip out of the pipeline because I can’t find a faculty position? And, let’s say I do find a faculty position. Would it be at a place where my husband could get a job? He’s an astrophysicist and has no interest in becoming faculty. That means he needs to be at a place with a large enough program that they hire staff scientists or at a NASA research facility. Those are few and far between.
Fourth, because I have lots of interests outside of science and I want time to pursue them. These days, I get up in the morning, eat breakfast and go to lab, come home late at night, eat a small supper and go to bed. I’ve been trying to leave weekends partially free so I can do things like laundry. This leaves little time to do simple things like read a book or knit a sweater or, well, just about anything (including spending time with my future children). I want free time, I guess I’m saying. I want a couple hours in the evening that I can do whatever the hell I want. I grew up seeing my parents work ridiculous hours just so we could survive and I thought if I got an education I would not have to do that. But, I guess I overshot on the education front because it seems that now I have so much education I’m expected to work a ridiculous number of hours, not so that I can make enough money to feed and clothe my family but for the fun of it.
So, when I look at all of those reasons, logically I know that I am making the right choice for me.
But, I still feel guilty.