Benedetta Bolognesi - Testimonial

Benedetta Bolognesi - Testimonial

 

“Motherhood is a very personal experience and many ingredients can make it extremely different from woman to woman. The one thing we could all agree on is that if you become a mother but you don’t want your career to stall, you should prepare for a very hard struggle. This is true for most jobs, including academia, and dramatically true if your plan is to become an independent investigator.
 
Not only, in the middle of the many novel tasks you find yourself juggling as a new mum, it’s very difficult to pinpoint what could make a difference for you. Would you need more help at home? Would it help to hire a technician to help you push things forward in the lab? We are so busy trying to make sure everything is working smoothly both at home and at work, that we don’t take a moment to figure out a way to be less overwhelmed. Our daily routine certainly doesn’t help being focused, being able to dedicate uninterrupted time to job applications or taking time to practice interviews, which are all key to be competitive in the academic job market.
 
I was personally completely unprepared to become a mum, but I often wonder how prepared you can really be. I also should add that having no family or real network around you is a major issue when you have a baby. As scientists, we are very likely to face this situation, and you should prepare for it if you can.
 
I can think of three major factors that not only helped me to survive the routine, but also brought me to a stage in which I felt confident to start applying for independent positions: an extremely supportive mentor, a collaborative partner (literally 50-50) and economic support from the WOSS program.
 
If you do not have a supportive mentor, go and find one. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your boss. At home, there are a lot of tasks that do not have to rely only on you. You and your partner should be interchangeable. Last, but not least, apply for the WOSS to get crucial support to improve drastically your routine.  I my case, I used the economic support I received form the CRG WOSS program to hire somebody that can pick up my daughter every day and also help taking care of our house. This means I can stay just a bit longer in the lab every day, and that, once home, I get better quality time with my daughter because I don’t have to take care of piles of laundry. My days improved a lot, so my mood and motivation. It’s with this spirit that I decided to put together my research proposal, started applying for positions and a few months later landed one. I could not be happier and I am aware that this would have not been possible without this type of help.
 
Again, every family is different. WOSS might be helpful for you in a different way. You might want a more effective way to get to work, or to afford a better suited school for your kids, or to get coaching sessions. Keep in mind that we, mums, become so effective that even one single additional hour of work each day could make a huge difference in terms of opportunities. I recommend you to apply in order to free up that mental space you now are forced to use for something else, and to save some energies that will allow you to push forward and strive.”

 

--- Benedetta Bolognesi, CRG Alumni, now Junior Group Leader, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), Barcelona, Spain