Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The researcher wants a wife...



The researcher wants a wife, the researcher wants a wife, ee ii the adio the researcher wants a wife.

Wife wanted. 1950s style preferred. Satisfaction its own reward, no stipend. You will need to take care of my child full time while I work, be prepared to pick up and move to a new city every 2-3 years for the next 10, keep on top of the lion's share of the housework, do any and all childcare in a strange place while I'm on fieldwork. You certainly won't have time for your own career as I will need all your time to support my own. Oh, and any kids will need to be 100% adaptable to my sudden disappearances and continual new houses and schools.

I'm in Galway, and for the next two weeks I do have a wife (of sorts) as my husband (keep up!) has taken precious annual leave to take care of our daughter while I enjoy the absolute luxury of space to time, think and write here on a Visiting Fellowship.

Our daughter, while coping brilliantly with being with Daddy in the daytime (and my parents for the previous week- thanks Mum and Dad) is clingy and sad at night, and wants to be with me almost continually, waking every two hours. I am, as a result, just a bit tired.

If I had a wife, she would be the primary carer and Silvie would be fine. I wouldn't have to make this wife take Annual Leave. Applying for a post-doc to come back here full time wouldn't be a source of worry and nervousness, it would be an exciting prospect as said wife would just get on with her homely tasks and settle the baby in for me.

Seeing as how no 1950s housewife/free of charge Mary Poppins figure is going to show up and sort this issue out, I'm going to have to keep on juggling, and enjoy the short term time for my own work.

Yet I can't help feeling that the structure of research careers: characterised by prestigious international fellowships, national relocations, and short term contracts, is inherently biased against people with families- men and women.

These posts are underwritten by other people doing the domestic labour - a kind of labour that has traditionally been highly gendered. But in the modern world, your spouse (male or female) is highly unlikely to be a full time domestic god(dess) who can just pack up their hoover and the nappies and move wherever you need to go next.

I don't know what the solution is, but I'm going with just applying for everything and hoping that things fall into place. But if you'd like to be my 1950s wife, get in touch.

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