Biomedical Sciences

Nature article: the balance between family life and a career in science

Dr Rachel James' (Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences) return to academia on a part-time fellowship is this month's feature article in Nature.

Rachel James returned to academia once all three of her children had reached school age
Rachel James returned to academia once all three of her children had reached school age

Deciding to have children meant I had to become agile in dealing with the balance between family life and a career in science. Sixteen years later, I’m back in academia, and maintaining that balance has taught me a lot about myself and my attitudes to work.

I had the first of my three children towards the end of my first postdoctoral position, in 2005. After a year of maternity leave, I returned to complete this postdoc in 2006, choosing to work part-time.

I then secured a contract for a second postdoc in a different laboratory, also part-time, and despite another ten months of maternity leave after the arrival of my second child in 2008, I was able to keep up my research and eventually published this work. But with two small children at home and a partner who worked away during the week, I couldn’t maintain any of the extra activities that are needed for an academic career: attending seminars, conferences and social events; undertaking professional development or CV-boosting activities; collaborating with other researchers and developing research ideas.

Constantly being made to feel as if I were underachieving had knocked the enjoyment out of my job, so by the end of that second contract in 2010, I felt that leaving my research career was the best decision to make..........

Read the full article in Nature here

Further information

Information about the Daphne Jackson Fellowship