Wageningen postdocs, PhDs and tenure trackers who have (or are expecting) children, need more information and support than WUR is currently providing, says Juliane Teapal, coordinator of education at Experimental Plant Sciences. She initiated an informal parents’ support group, which met for the first time this week, with over fifty men and women present.
The support group’s goals are sharing information and experiences and networking. Teapal: ‘In the competitive world of science, parenting can be complicated, particularly for international staff and the many scientists serving on temporary contracts. They frequently have practical questions such as: do I have the right to maternity and parenting leave? How do you manage without a social network of people that can lend a hand? How do you find a family home if you don’t qualify for a mortgage due to your temporary contract?’
Teapal speaks from experience: after her first child was born, she declined a postdoc position for practical reasons. ‘The position was in the United Kingdom, but I simply could not envision myself managing a scientific career and young children in a country where we knew no one to show us the ropes or step up to take care of the children in case of emergencies’, she states candidly.
Experience shows that parenting is a major breaking point in many scientific careers. The scientists drop out or get stuck. A waste for science as a whole says Teapal, and for a truly inclusive academic world. The parents’ support group, which is open to all WUR parents, aims to address this issue, among other activities, through bi-monthly lunch meetings in impulse. Interested parents can reach out to initiator Teapal.