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Stephanie Chesser, PhD(C) Aging, Health and Well-being Collaborative Program Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies University of Waterloo, Waterloo,

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Presentation on theme: "Stephanie Chesser, PhD(C) Aging, Health and Well-being Collaborative Program Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies University of Waterloo, Waterloo,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Stephanie Chesser, PhD(C) Aging, Health and Well-being Collaborative Program Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario Diapers & Dissertations: An exploration of family planning decision-making among academic trainees

2 Doctoral Education in Canada 4000 doctoral students begin training each year in Canada (King, 2008) Personal lifestyle sacrifices Average age of PhD graduate is years (Statistics Canada, 2008; Maldonado, Wiggers & Arnold, 2013) Many moving on to postdoctoral training (CAPS, 2013)

3 Academia and Parenthood Academia has been historically androcentric (Coltrane, 2004) Modern academics (particularly women) can face several challenges (Ward & Wolf-Wendell, 2004) Work/life balance can be difficult

4 Despite these realities, many academic trainees are still choosing to parent Why?

5 Gaps in the Literature Established female academics are publishing accounts of juggling academic work and families, but graduate student parents not well represented Male academic parents (trainee or otherwise) are largely ignored and little literature exists about men’s motivations for parenthood

6 Study Purpose What factors influence decision-making surrounding first-time parenthood when one or both partners are engaged in doctoral or postdoctoral training?

7 Participant Recruitment Research-oriented, mid-sized southwestern Ontario university Couples who were pregnant with, trying for, or seriously considering having or adopting their first child

8 Emergent Themes: Busy and stressful schedules, but large amounts of flexibility “I’ve always thought that a PhD was like a perfect time [to have a baby]. I’m flexible, I don’t have to go to school if I don’t want to most of the time. If something comes up I can call in and say “sorry, something came up” or I can bring the baby with me.” (Female PhD student, 1 st year, trying to conceive)

9 Emergent Themes: Fears of age-related pregnancy issues/infertility/energy levels for children motivator for parenthood “I don’t necessarily think we were like ‘okay we are 30 so we have to start now’, it wasn’t like that at all. It was more along the lines of, when we talked about it, the sooner the better” (Male PhD student, wife pregnant, 2 nd year)

10 Emergent Theme: Timing of pregnancy in academic training is important “I have gotten most of my coursework out of the way, which does make my time more flexible. I have defined my research at this point, which I guess mentally makes for less variables in that part of my life, so I was ready to introduce some craziness in another part [referring to pregnancy].” (Female PhD student, pregnant, 2 nd year)

11 Conclusion Family planning decisions are complicated, particularly for academic trainees and their families Commitment to making space when desire to parent is strong Planning and strategizing Important to make students aware of their options

12 Acknowledgements This research was made possible by:

13 References Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars. (2009). Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/ site/canadapostdoc/ https://sites.google.com/ site/canadapostdoc/ Coltrane, S. (2004). Elite careers and family commitment: It’s (still) about gender The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 596, King, D. (2008) Doctoral Graduates in Canada: Findings from the Survey of Earned Doctorates, 2004/2005. Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics – Research papers. Statistics Canada Catalogue no M — No. 065 Maldonado, V., Wiggers, R., & Arnold, C. (2013). So You Want to Earn a PhD? The Attraction, Realities, and Outcomes of Pursuing a Doctorate. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Statistics Canada (2008). Doctoral graduates in Canada 2004/2005. Retrieved from Ward, K., Wolf-Wendel, L. (2004). Academic motherhood: Managing complex roles in research universities. The Review of Higher Education, 27(2),

14 Participant Demographics 10 couples recruited All were heterosexual Average age (both male and female partners): 29 years Average year of study (PhD student only) = pregnant couples, 3 actively trying to conceive 6 couples had one partner who was not a trainee 4 international couples 3 postdocs 4 faculties represented


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