Helping Women Achieve in Academic Science

On the Road Again

Travel-smallI am wrapping up the end of a couple weeks of travel. At first, it was nice to have a break from my gigantic class and my crazy household and the snow snow snow, but I am ready to go back home and get into a comfortable groove again. I am sure my HusbandOfScience will also be happy to have my help around the house again, too.

HusbandOfScience and I seem to do a lot of traveling. This semester, I am traveling for 3 conferences and 3 seminars. That doesn’t really seem so bad, unless you add in the travel of HusbandOfScience. If we each travel once per month, than someone is traveling every other week!

I think I should start phasing out most seminars, but people come back and ask every semester. You feel flattered and you feel guilty for saying no. The requesters come back and ask you again so nicely and politely.  So you make a date for a year in advance hoping that FutureYou will be in a better position than PresentYou as far as traveling. But FutureYou has always been in a worse position because PresentYou is an a-hole who keeps schluffing her travel onto FutureYou. This is all screwed up even more because some fancy, exciting invitations might come up on shorter notice than one year causing all wave function to collapse into a coherent travel particle.

But, here is a problem with phasing out going to give seminars – we get evaluated every year on our research accomplishments that help to determine the measely 0.5-0.7% raise you might get. People who don’t travel are dinged because they must not be important enough. Seminar invitations count toward your visibility as an academic, so you don’t want to ignore them completely. So, what is a happy medium? How many seminars is enough to make sure you are getting out your research message, but no so much that you drive your wonderful SignificantOther bonkers because you are never there? And is it really important to travel at all?

Some of my WomanOfScience friends who have new babies are having trouble getting back into the groove of travel. They are saying “no” and feeling guilty because it is for family reasons. Again, I ask if this is hurting their career? It seems to me that if they get out a reasonable number of scientific papers and other written works each year (say, 2-5?) then their scientific research “cred” is really not in jeopardy. I think not getting manuscripts submitted and published is a more negative issue for your career than the number of talks you give. So, I don’t think these MothersOfScience should worry about getting back to the swing of travel so fast, if they want to take a few years to settle into motherhood before hitting the road again. For when you are ready to get back, I have a lovely post contributed by one of my mentors and AllAroundWomanOfScience about this topic called, “Back in the Saddle” you might want to check out.

One thing I do want to say is that I get a lot more manuscript writing and submitting while away traveling and on the road (actually mostly on the airplane) than I do at home. So, for me, keeping up that paper count may depend on my seminar schedule being full.

What do you think? How essential is travel? Does it matter more before or after tenure? Comment or post. Push the +Follow button to get an email every time I post.

Comments on: "On the Road Again" (2)

  1. Robin Selinger said:

    For new parents, it’s understandable if they both prefer to minimize travel for 12-18 months postpartum, especially for lactating moms. Pumping milk and pouring it down the sink in the women’s bathroom at a conference is not my idea of a good time.

    Once you are ready to travel again, I would recommend having a nanny (or, possibly, a grandparent) available at home to assist the parent left behind, to alleviate the stress of solo parenting. It’s especially helpful if the nanny can help with laundry, shopping, driving kids to activities, cooking, and at least light housekeeping.

    Nannies deserve decent pay so prepare to have less disposable income. An ideal candidate might be a semi-retired adult who will mostly work a few hours/day before or after school/daycare (or both), and who is also available on an emergency basis to cover the daytime hours in case of (heaven forbid) a sick day or snow day.

    When our kids were little we spent a lot on nanny salary (often nanny-sharing with another family); and, later, private school tuition + after school nannies. The trade-off is that for a long time we drove older cars (purchased used and kept for well over 10 years) and lived in an older home in a not particularly trendy neighborhood.

    I viewed each nanny as a professional co-parent and we did our best to treat them with kindness and respect. Most stuck around for a long time. There were a handful of nannies who didn’t really work out and stayed for less than a year, but most stuck around for two to five+ years. A tip: One way to promote a nanny’s loyalty to your family is to put her on your family cell phone plan, on the condition that she will keep the phone handy when on duty.

    With good support at home you and dear husband should both be able to travel without too much stress on either of you. And with all the frequent flyer miles you earn, you can take the whole family on a nice vacation.

    The tricky part is what to do when both you and your dear husband need to attend the same conference. Your best bet is to have both a familiar nanny and a beloved grandparent stay at home with the kids. That way they at least have their familiar environment even if not all the familiar people.

  2. […] I do a lot of talking about it on airplanes, in airports, in taxis… I’ve been doing a lot of traveling, lately, have I mentioned it? When people sit next to me and ask what I do, they are often excited […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: