Job Sharing at Babraham Institute
We opened the event by addressing the need for opportunities that allow people to enjoy and improve their careers whilst also balancing their home lives. 43% of male and 51% of female researchers at Babraham believe that work life balance is the biggest challenge to their personal progression in science when compared with competition and required mobility (LIBRA, 2016 staff survey).
Penny Coggill from CamAWiSE steering group joined us for the event, she introduced CamAWiSE and its aims. Penny discussed the value of networking in support for women in science and engineering.
Sara Horsfall, the founder of Ginibee a job sharing platform, defined job sharing as a ‘partnership in a full time role’. She discussed the importance of communication, handover and shared ownership. Sara addressed the importance of maintaining a career while dealing with whatever is going on in life. This seems particularly relevant at a time when many scientific institutes, like ourselves (see our current Daphne Jackson Fellowship vacancy), are introducing measures such as career re-entry fellowships to enable scientists to return to research after a career break. However, creating job sharing opportunities could prevent a skilled and talented pool of individuals from leaving their career in the first place. Sara discussed potential benefits to the employer: two brains instead of one; continuity; diverse experiences and skills; increased loyalty and commitment from more content employees; and improved productivity.
Dr Claire Senner and Dr Sarah Burge, our current post-doctoral job sharers (see our June 2016 blog), shared their thoughts on aiming to be successful scientists and successful mothers.
Claire said ‘I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t doing either of my jobs well – as a mummy or a scientist’. Sarah discussed how in her family the 2 body problem was solvable, still felt possible with 3, but with 4 the solutions just weren’t coming together - until she found and began her job share post doc.
Both post docs feel that the job share had enabled them to stay in science at a time when they were contemplating leaving their successful careers. They feel that their job share is a success and has benefitted both their family lives and careers. They did address challenges to job sharing: being realistic about what you can achieve; missing out on some of the fun at work; and the tough mental gear change between work and home time. Despite these, both Claire and Sarah now feel like they have a future in science again.