In the first of a new series of blog entries on aspects of members’ career trajectories, Rose Simpson offers her thoughts on work-life balance:
It took me a while to become a Woman in German Studies. I was temperamentally unsuited to life as a bank-manager’s wife and the Girls’ Grammar had failed to offer any other attractive work-alternative. At twenty, academia, along with aubergines, was an incomprehensible idea, obviously impractical, probably undesirable. Running off to play with a pop group in my final year of university seemed a better bet. It was so much quicker, and a lot more fun, to gain enlightenment through live poets, and ‛voices of the generation’ than to persist with a BA in English. Work and life were indistinguishable during three years of Flower Power and purple haze. Since I was no musician, it eventually seemed better to preempt this revelation, and Welsh rural life was an imagined solution to healthy child-rearing on a minimal income, thus evading the necessity to balance home and work. The wish to ‛improve myself’ encouraged me to learn Welsh, the licensed trade, typing, building construction, beginner’s plumbing and the basics of the Probation Service. The life/work balance was a very simple one – work lasted until the bills got paid and life was the time remaining. The late luxury of a State Pension enabled another degree-course with the limited aim of extending my retirement novel-reading into two other languages. From that point, my ‛career trajectory’ has been fairly standard, apart from being a generation or two out of sync. My pleasures and discouragements are probably those common to everyone who does research and writes about it. The great advantage I have over all those WIGS who have an academic career to consider, or a reputation to look back upon, is that I have neither. I can take chances, look to the unpopular as well as the mainstream and, if I do make a dreadful error, I can admit failure without career-humiliation. Once again, work is recreation and life a necessary condition that I hope to prolong a while.
The WIGS committee is calling for blog entries on any aspect of members’ career trajectories that you would like to share with others. They can be lighthearted or serious, about the work side or the ‘life’ side, or both, and may be published anonymously, depending on preference. Please consider contributing: a couple of paragraphs or maximum 500 words is all that is needed. We particularly urge older colleagues to share some aspect of your experiences, but all are encouraged to contribute. Please send your contributions to Brigid Haines (firstname.lastname@example.org), stating whether you wish to remain anonymous, and watch this space!