B5 - Researcher parent trap

Day 1 at 16:30 - Researcher parent trap
Day Day 1
Session B
Start time 16:30
Strand Research Staff
Code B5

Dr Sarah Mohammad-Qureshi - Researcher Development Officer, University of Manchester

TBC - Daphne Jackson Trust


“Should I start a family during my early research career?” A very real and immediate concern for many early-career researchers, yet so rarely discussed. Knowing the details of policies, such as maternity/paternity/adoption leave and pay, can be a major contributor when deciding to have children. However, whilst working on relatively short contracts and competing to establish a career, it can be difficult to broach the subject of children with your line manager/peers and the very real fear of taking yourself out of the game by starting a family is ever present. Additionally, researchers returning to work face a confusing and challenging, sometimes isolating, time whilst they adjust to a new work-life balance. The ‘Researcher Parent Trap’ information session was delivered at The University of Manchester in June 2015 to acknowledge these concerns and provide valuable information to early career researchers; the ironic title reflects the belief amongst many that starting a family is a step towards career failure. Amongst the talks was information delivered by the HR Policy Manager and the Athena SWAN Coordinator. In addition, a guest talk by Dr. Katie Perry (C.E. of the Daphne Jackson Trust) enlightened researchers about returning to research after a career-break for caring responsibilities. The event was attended by over 80 researchers across The University, demonstrating the requirement for communication on the subject. This was a positive step towards encouraging early career researchers to discuss these common-placed issues. 

This workshop will communicate some of the ways our institute is addressing the needs of researcher parents and initiate discussion of additional training and support provisions required. The first half will summarise the information and feedback from the ‘Researcher Parent Trap’; outlining information on national and University policies and practices during pregnancy and/or leave and support available for returning parents. There will also be examples of stories provided by current and ex-researchers who had first-hand knowledge on raising a family whilst in an academic career plus select feedback from Research Staff. 

The second half of the workshop will enable conference participants to share how their institutions are supporting researcher parents. The discussion will open out to further explore the needs of this community of Researchers and identify distinct areas where their career progression is particularly challenged above that of other research staff groups, helping to direct programmes of support and training specific to these researchers.

This session will cover: 

  • the additional challenges faced by early career researchers who are starting a family or have caring responsibilities.
  • the current support available for Research Staff at The University of Manchester and nationally.
  • ideas for improving the retention of researcher parents in academia with examples of support requested by researcher parents.. 

Participants will: 

  • have greater understanding on the specific needs of researcher parents and the impact on their research career progression. 
  • generate ideas for provisions that will afford a more positive career outlook for researcher parents. 


Information, discussion and idea generation.