Comments

Sign our letter here!

I’m planning to leave academia due to the lack of support for working mothers. We’ve spent almost all of our saving to pay for childcare while being post-docs.

-Anonymous Postdoctoral Associate, USA

What a great cause! All of these ideas should have been implemented years ago.

-Anne S. Meyer, Faculty Member, University of Rochester

I am not paid through NIH, so that is why I answered that the proposals would not help me. However, the proposals would indirectly help me because this type of change needs to occur across the board. I believe that if the NIH adopts these proposals, change will ripple throughout the academy, across funding sources and across positions. Thanks for doing this important work, I hope you feel the support from all of us!

-Anonymous Postdoctoral Associate, USA

As a female grad student who wants kids in the future and around the same time I would do a potential post doc, lack of reasonable childcare is one of the biggest factors that is pushing me away from an academic career. I think it is crazy not to support smart, motivated, and dedicated people in raising smart, motivated, and dedicated kids.

-Rebecca Goldstein, Graduate Student, University of Utah

This is an awesome initiative! I’m fortunate to be a postdoc in Stanford where we have a lot of benefits and a good salary. But I’m with you all in this national crusade! We are the heart and blood of the research engine of USA!

-Anonymous Postdoctoral Associate, USA

Access to supportive polices for postdoc parents would increase the diversity of our faculty and improve biomedical research in our country

-Anonymous Postdoctoral Associate, USA

To foster diversity requires support of scientists from all walks of life. Forcing scientists, particularly women, to choose between career and family is wholly antithetical to that goal. I hope the NIH is able to modernize its family policies to one of increased inclusion, and support efforts of NIH-funded faculty to do the same.

-Alistair Russell, Faculty Member, UC-San Diego

The way that NIH fellowships handle postdoc benefits also needs change.

-Anonymous Associate Research Scientist, USA

So glad you’re doing this. Thank you.

-Anonymous Faculty Member, USA

This is an amazing start, and much needed! However, I feel it is tailored a bit more towards young parents and parents with two incomes. Please remember that there are single mom’s and (in my case), mom’s who are the major breadwinners as postdocs. As such, the example of two postdoc parent salary doesn’t quite exemplify the dire situation of many postdoc parents I encounter. With that said, I know you have to start somewhere, and the three points you’ve made are to the benefit of all postdoc parents!

-Chrystal Starbird, Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University

I had to leave my post doc after my wife had our first child due to the financial strain.

-Anonymous Industry Scientist, USA

I think we all benefit by supporting families and women in STEM.

-Anonymous Faculty Member, USA

This matter shapes the life of huge percentage of scientists and in a profession already loaded with different kinds of pressures and stresses raising a family, in a wealthy, developed country, should not be another reason for struggles and anxiety. Definitely none of us scientists, men and women, should ever be forced to choose between a career that we all love and the possibility to properly provide for the family that – who decides to have one- really desired to build!

-Anonymous Postdoctoral Associate, USA

I and my husband are both postdocs at Baylor. We’ve been married for nearly 3 years without children, not even think about it currently, even though I’m in relatively older age to have first child. The most concerning reason is non of us has time to take care of the new born, due to some requirements of experiment, we actually work at lab over 55 hours per week. And I won’t have enough time to recover from giving birth and adjust to my new role according to the current policies. It’s obvious that females will sacrifice more as postdoc parents to have a child. I’m very appreciated to see this petition and want to sign my name because we postdoc parent really need more
supports in the beginning of both our academic career and family life.
There is one more thing I want to point out, I haven’t found any maternity facilities at my work place, e.g. a private and quiet room for pregnant women or new moms in breast feeding period to take a short rest during their work.

-Anonymous Postdoctoral Associate, Baylor College of Medicine

I am still a grad student (will be starting a postdoc in less than a year), but the though of starting a family while a postdoc mildly terrifies me. Having set NIH policies in place to protect my time as both a future parent and scientist would give me tremendous ease to navigate both worlds simultaneously.

-Anonymous Graduate Student, USA

Women could benefit from increasing the maximum years of qualifying for transitional awards (often it is within 3 years of graduation).

-Parisa Lotfi, Postdoctoral Associate, Baylor College of Medicine

Even though I currently don’t have a family yet, but I fully understand and support the concern which presented in this letter based on my friends’ experiences and the fact that several female faculties which I knew were regret later in their life for their sacrifice of not having children for their demanding career.

-Anonymous Postdoctoral Associate, USA

I completely support this movement. It has been overwhelmingly difficult to be a parent-postdoc (I am a female). Postdoc pay is too low to afford childcare in major metropolitan areas, especially when factoring in the cost of rent as well. I took time after defending to have a child, which increased the number of years since my Ph.D. was awarded and made me ineligible for a number of fellowships. This makes me a less desirable candidate for post-doc advisors if I cannot acquire funding from the now-limited pool. Also frustrating is that being a fellow/NIH award recipient disqualifies you from being able to claim childcare benefits (For example, money that my husband set aside in a childcare FSA through his employer ended up being taxed because I was not considered employed (paid as a fellow). Both parents must receive a W2 for this benefit, apparently, (which is ridiculous). We ended up owing an additional $1000 to the IRS. It feels like I’m being punished for starting a family.

-Anonymous Postdoctoral Associate, USA

Speaking from personal experience, enhanced parental and childcare benefits for graduate students and the posdoctoral workforce would significantly improve both the quality and the consistency of child care and in turns the productivity of the parents.

-Anonymous Postdoctoral Associate, USA

I think this was overdue. My wife and I have a daily post dinner post toddler sleep time about whether we can get both a decent (basic) familial life with two kids and academic jobs for both of us. Unfortunately, the answer for us seems to be a “No” because we do not want to compromise on our personal life goals for something we are passionate about but not at the cost of loosing out on our lifelong dreams.

-Anonymous Postdoctoral Associate, USA

THIS is part of the “leaky pipeline” – it affects all of us because it impacts our ability to recruit and retain women or really any from a socioeconomically disadvantaged background.

-Seemay Chou, Faculty Member, UCSF

YES something needs to be done. As a female graduate student who wants to start a family someday, I have sort of just closed the door on academia because it seems near impossible to support a family on post-doc wages unless you have a partner in a more lucrative career. This is ridiculous. If you want more women in positions of power (i.e. faculty), it cannot come at the cost of family. I really hope this movement takes off and I fully support it.

-Anonymous Graduate Student, USA

My childcare costs are >75% my annual salary.

-Anonymous Postdoctoral Associate, Harvard Medical School

Postdocs will leave science if they can not afford to raise their children. This will disproportionately affect women. If we want to keep women and URMs in science, we need policies to help them get through their postdoc years, during which salaries are low and cities are expensive.

-Kristin Patrick, Faculty Member, Texas A&M University Health Science Center

I needed to use my FMLA time (unpaid) to bridge the period between the time between my wife going back to work and getting my son into daycare. Our family could manage this, but many can’t. Paid leave would go far to support postdocs who are starting families.

-Matthew Peña, Research Scientist, Rice University

I’m not going to have children, but I have seen grad students and post docs struggling as new parents. Even though I will not personally benefits from the proposed policy changes, I support them 100%.

-Anonymous Postdoc, USA

Supporting researchers should be paramount to our STEM progress! Supporting new parents is critical to the survival of our society!

-Anonymous Physician or Medical Student, USA

Please consider the possibility that postdoc parents can sometimes be single parents.

-Emilia C Arturo, Postdoctoral Associate,
La Jolla Institute for Immunology, Division of Structural Biology & Infectious Diseases

I’ve seen many PIs who undermine the human factor in research. They often focus more on getting support from funding agencies so that they can have all cutting edge technologies to answer their questions. While they care for the research output, the mental health of people working behind this, is often neglected. Mental health issues result from having trouble in maintains work life balance including time spent on upbringing of kids.

-Anonymous Graduate Student, Canada

As someone who works on diversity issues in STEM settings, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of high-level policies that ensure less attrition, particularly at the postdoctoral level. The NIH is in an unparalleled position to make changes that would ensure that the fields that it supports are able to attract and retain talent, rather than losing it because people do not have enough economic support to make certain career choices. 

-Leena Akhtar, The Greater Us
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