Not Going Straight Through: The Pros and Cons

Lynda B. Williams, PhD: Not Going Straight Through: The Pros and Cons

Taking time off before pursuing her PhD.

Video Transcript

Dr. Lynda B. Williams's Bio

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Transcript: Not Going Straight Through: The Pros and Cons

In the course of my career, well when I finished my master's, I had been divorced and fell in love with another graduate student at that time. He had gone on-he graduated a year ahead of me and gone into academic, actually a post-doc at University of Chicago, and I followed him there but it was difficult. At that point, I wanted to decide was I going to go on in school or have a family, and I was 26. My clock turned on, and I really wanted to have children. The decision I had to make at that time is could I have the children and go to school, and I decided not to. That it would be better to get him settled in his career through a tenure track, and I would have kids and keep my fingers in the academic and research world by getting grants and doing research.

That worked out. He got his first job at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Then I was hired and allowed to write a grant proposal which got funded after a year. They gave me a year of funding. That was a big decision in affecting my total career, but it was the best decision I ever made because I'm so glad that I had kids at that age. I feel like-I have a friend who is 48, and she's having a baby next year. I can't imagine doing that at my age now. I was happy to get to have children early in my career.

The con is, that our society is not-or academics is not really set up to accommodate women who choose to have a family first and then go into academics. So I didn't go back to get my PhD until 2000, fifteen years after my masters. My kids were in middle school at the time. I felt they were old enough to be on their own, long enough for me to go to school. I thought I would just go out and get a job at the university after that and found out it doesn't work that way. There is a little bit of hesitation when you haven't gone straight through the academics and straight into a teaching role. So you sort of set yourself up as a researcher. You're a researcher. You're not a teacher because I've been doing it. I was successful at doing research, but I want to be a professor. You have to give and take, and I have had to accept that I chose my family first.

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