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Family Plans

Last month we ran Returning to Science by Sarah Webb, an article about women returning to science after extended family leaves. The same week we also published A Life Lived Backwards by Angela Saini, about
Patricia Alireza, the University College-London physicist who didn’t
even start graduate school until her family was grown.

In
connection with those articles we conducted an online poll to figure
out how our readers — overwhelmingly postdocs and graduate students —
are planning to balance family and career. Of those who took the
survey, 49% were graduate students and 43% were postdocs. The remaining
8% were split evenly between “undergraduate student” and “other”.

The
result of the survey was, to me, both surprising and pleasing: The most
popular approach, it seems, is not to wait. Nearly half of our readers
“expect/plan to have children while still in training.” More than a
quarter of respondents already have children. About a quarter — 24.5%
— plan to wait until after their careers are established before having
children. 2% don’t intend to have children at all.

All these
choices are valid, but with the training phase getting longer and
scientific independence happening later, it’s good to see that among
those who want children, nearly half feel they don’t have to wait. The
results follow in graphical form.
 
FamilyPlans.jpg

My thanks to Managing Editor Alan Kotok for designing and setting up the online poll.

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