Women in Science
Taking Parental Leave
Video clip: After her third baby was born Irene took two months maternity leave. Then her husband took some of her paid leave and then six months unpaid leave. Both partners have had successful careers.
For the third one [baby], that was more problematic because obviously there was no plan for me to take over directing this Imaging Centre and because I was doing that, before they could replace me at College I was still also simultaneously having a full College tutorial load, with a colleague on sabbatical and as well as my departmental and examining. So it was very, very, very busy year….
And there was no way I could take off that. So what I did was just the first couple of months, and then my husband took a couple of my months maternity, and then he took six months’ unpaid leave, and obviously you’re around a little bit. But that was tough and again I would be very honest with, you know, the girls and boys increasingly. Again the boys are sharing the mix, which I think is absolutely how it has to go here. People have to jointly, what works for them, works for them but I think if we can encourage more men to get involved a bit more. One they want to. They just often don’t have the mechanism and the means to do it and I think having done it, certainly my husband, it just has been such a great thing and again, I think what’s been empowering for him is his other colleagues seeing it didn’t impact at all on his output. He was still able to publish, you know, in the highest ranking journals and be a hugely successful person, while still being a very good father and having plenty of time, you know, with the kids. And again, you can work it out because you can use that flexibility. It meant he had some pretty early mornings and late nights throughout those years but you’re young and you’re energetic. You just know this isn’t going to last forever.
And, you know, that sacrifice say that I had, although I was comfortable with that because at least then one parent was having that contact with the kids. So for us, it was a question of a parent having contact time. It was slightly odd that it wasn’t the mum, which is the norm, and it was more of the father but it seemed to have worked out. They seem to be okay.