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Posts Tagged ‘life’

The most interesting and provocative comment on Rachel Moss’s wonderful blog post last month on Choosing Not To Giveon the sacrifices that women are expected to make in academic culture, was from Lucy Northenra: “How many women are remembered for their ability to never miss a school run compared to those who manage against all the odds to publish enough to be made professors?” Rachel’s response was equally passionate: “I may well only have one child, and during the week I see her for an hour in the morning and an hour and a half in the evening. Perhaps I might somehow write an extra 4* publication if I gave up one of those hours each day. For me, the cost isn’t worth it.”

Do you want to be remembered as a great scholar but a lousy parent – or not remembered at all except by your nearest and dearest? Why are you mucking about with plasticine instead of changing the world? Why are you wasting time on an article that five people will read with limited attention when you could be making a real difference to one or two individuals who completely depend on you? Such dilemmas go to the heart of academic ambitions and self-image.* Who do I think I really am, who do I want to be, and what to do about all the things that threaten to get in the way? (more…)

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Stuck in the Middle

searleI’m now somewhere in the middle – it’s slightly trickier than it used to be to determine the exact mid-point, as we’re working with a new academic calendar – of my nineteenth year in Bristol and my twentieth year in some sort of full-time academic employment. One couldn’t get much more mid-career than that – well, other than the likelihood that the notional retirement age will do a Zeno’s tortoise thing, retreating further into the distance however much progress one makes towards it – and it does make you think, reflect and feel generally middle-aged. Even more so after hearing a senior colleague in the faculty referring to a certain department that will remain nameless, blessed with an staff age profile that is particularly heavy on the forty-somethings, as suffering from a collective mid-life crisis.

What, I feel impelled to wonder, is the academic equivalent of buying a ridiculously expensive motorbike or getting a face-lift? (more…)

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