Reboot career after 3 years of break due to maternity leave — R Voice

Reboot career after 3 years of break due to maternity leave

Dear all!

I`m Anna, MD, PhD from Ukraine. I am back in the lab in 2020 after 3 years of maternity leave. Now need to perform a genetic part on a grant, while struggling to remember the PCR practical skills.

I stuck with elementary items, like calculating concentration, designing primers, PCR troubleshooting ... My work environment is stressful, colleagues are not helping, some even aggressive. I feel guilty of being not competent, become frustrated and stressed so much. I asked some questions in Researchgate, but can`t wait to answers for so long.

My boss is not interested in "micromanagement")

Please, share your experience of returning to lab practice.

Thanks in advance! 🤩


  • Raj sundaram
    Raj sundaram Member Posts: 322 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Anna Zhukovska ,

    Thanks for raising this important matter. Resuming research after a break can be hard. Especially with a child. Even if the work environment is great. So, please be aware that you are doing a great job by just showing up. And your return to the research is already a form of resistance to the "leaky pipeline" in academia. So, I'd like to tell you that by rejoining, you've done a great service to those who aspire to rejoin research after maternity/paternity breaks, to the community of women scientists...and to scientists who aspire to bring about work- family balance.

    On that note, rejoining a stressful / " aggressive" environment is tough. I'm sorry you are in this situation. Some possible directions....

    (A) Is it possible for you to talk to your supervisor to request some time to brush up your skills? Is your supervisor someone who might listen to your issues and respond? "Not interested in micromanagement"...but is your boss interested in being a good listener and creating a good work environment for subordinates? (If no negotiation is possible, perhaps you'd like to think if you want to really work with such a person.)

    Also, you were hired after a break. People who hired you know this. is to be expected that there'll be a small lag, and you'll need time and support to get up to speed. If those who hired you did not factor this in, it is misjudgement in their expectations.

    This also means that those who hired you knew your potential competence. You were hired because you are a good fit and have the competence. This is just a minor blip. So, please don't feel guilty.

    (B) please try to get mentors besides your supervisor. And is there a women scientists support group? Support groups for new mothers? Please try to talk to someone in a similar situation. Please give a shout out for women scientists rejoining after maternity on researchgate. Just talking to someone who relates helps. It may not solve your may get new directions for future action. And you might need people to cheer you on till you get through this, I guess.

    Of course, please use this community to find support.

    (C) if possible, please do enlist the support of your local counselling resources.

    We are rooting for you here. Pretty sure, with a little bit of time and effort spent on brushing up skills, support and encouragement you'll be able to get back on track.