Balancing career and family

“The dilemma of balancing family and work has no easy solution. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every person and family must find specific solutions to their issues depending on their own preferences and needs. But basically, a balance between work and family occurs when a person is able to sufficiently meet family commitments and adequately perform responsibilities at work. There is nothing wrong with working hard to gain some of the finer things in life, but you should also not forget the worth of the things and people that really matter most.”


For scientists navigating their careers with a partner, securing two fulfilling positions within reasonable commuting distance may seem like a formidable challenge. Throw children into the mix, and it can feel like something—or someone—has to give. For many years, it was traditionally women who would put their careers on the backburner, but as the predominating culture is changing both at work and at home, women—and increasingly, men—are feeling more and more empowered to pursue a rewarding career while also supporting their partner’s and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Is it possible to have not one but two successful careers and have a fulfilling family life as well? It remains difficult, but many testimonies on Science Careers suggest that it can be done. Balancing life and career is a highly personal challenge, and what works for you may not work for others. But there are some common themes among those who have navigated these waters: a sharing of responsibilities at home, external help with child care, and a supportive boss and institution. Often it also requires an honest dialogue between yourself and your partner about your respective life and career priorities and the compromises that you are each willing to make, together with a good dose of flexibility.

In spite of the challenges, and even though there is still much work to be done to achieve gender parity and support scientists’ work-life balance, for researchers who want to enjoy both a career and a family, managing the two can yield great rewards, both professionally and personally.

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