Ever since we, my wife and I, decided to have a child, while both of us were 3rd year doctoral students, we have fielded a myriad of comments, questions, and concerns about this decision. Weren't we worried about our productivity or meeting our graduate studies milestones? How could we make this work on graduate stipends? How can we manage our child and a dissertation? Let's be clear, we asked ourselves all of these questions and more when we decided to take this leap. And these questions continued as we've worked through our postdoctoral years, during which time we "acquired" a 2nd child. The answers, if they exist, to these questions are organic and come as you work through the process, which critically involves learning from the experiences of others who have taken this jump before you.
There needs to be more space within academia to have frank and open discussions about how to navigate the challenges of both working towards a meaningful professional career AND a fulfilling personal life. This is not only for the cathartic benefits of experience sharing, but also to help develop institutional and advocacy strategies to better support and aid those with parenting responsibilities and, of equal importance, those who want to do this.
Sunny and my conversations with each other and friends/colleagues has transformed into a joint side project. We approached the American Geophysical Union about our idea and their response and support has been tremendous. As part of this effort, we organized a panel discussion on this topic at the most recent Fall Meeting, which was featured in the Centennial Central programming (see video below; our session is the 1st hour). This conversation has never happened directly within AGU and we're excited to have been able to help facilitate it at such a large-scale venue as the AGU Fall Meeting.
I wanted to thank AGU for their support of this work and, especially, President-elect of the Education Section Tanya Furman, whose enthusiasm for our efforts transformed this from an abstract notion into real action, without her drive and facilitation we would not have been able to achieve this. I also want to greatly appreciate all of the panelists we had featured, their insights to this conversation were open, honest, and immensely helpful as we digest this topic within AGU. Thank you to all those who attended the session and who supported this work.