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Round-table discussion event January 2022

Our first event of 2022 was our online round-table/discussion meeting that took place on Thursday 20 January from 15:30 to 17:00. During this meeting, we shared stories and perspectives amongst each other, gave and received support, and found solutions to problems often faced by marginalized groups in academia. The themes discussed were work-life balance, career and life planning, parenting, and leadership and mentorship.

The program consisted of a word of welcome and instructions (5-10 minutes), a discussion round in groups using Zoom’s break-out room functionality (60 minutes), and a joint discussion and summary (15-20 minutes). We also used Miro to collect people’s thoughts, take-aways, and other notes after the discussion round. These notes we will share with you below.

(Some re-arrangement and re-sizing of notes has been done for better visual representation. Content of notes has not been edited.)

Miro overview

For this theme, we discussed our experiences and issues related to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. How do you create boundaries around work? What are your “hacks” for hybrid working? How do you spend your free time in a way that nourishes you?

  • not having a burnout is not the same as having an okay work/life balance :-)
  • Decouple self-worth from work
  • Be very vigilant and try to take some distance to get a proper view on your work-life balance
  • You don't have to fit the image of the "ideal academic", it is more important to make your work work for you
  • Tips: leave your phone sometimes, take guiltless holidays, don't get your self-worth from work, monitor your actual hours
  • Try to be aware of the "academic train" you're on :-)
  • you'll be okay even if you decide to quit academia; it's not 'failing'

Miro work-life balance 1

For this theme, we thought about and shared our long-term plans and aspirations. What are your career goals? What are your life goals? What are the challenges that you will face in trying to achieve these goals? How do you decide whether to stay in academia? How do you imagine your future in general?

  • Challenge notes:
    • work mobility vs. life goals
    • work vs. relationship
    • work vs. family planning
    • work/life in the pandemic
    • financial problems to get a loan without a fixed position
    • how much can a career in academia be planned
  • be aware what a "compromise" is to you, and your partner
  • Don't overthink it and things will work out (you would be overthinking it in a 'regular' job as well)
  • There is a limit to what extend you can plan your academic career/life. Sometimes it's good to step back and think about what you do still makes you happy.
  • contact people with cool jobs
  • decide on what I want to come first: career or (family-) planning
  • think about what you want first
  • the future is hard to predict, but the current feeling is what we can control
  • "Goals" are not a clear destination, but a state of mind
  • enjoy your academic job while you're in it and don't just do it to expect benefits later on
  • read vacancies regularly to know what other jobs are out there
  • Just go for it!
  • and apply for all kind of jobs
  • How do we even know what jobs are out there that are suitable for us? > Talk with Career Services; Do career tests; Talk within your network, including your old-old network! being inspired by e.g. LinkedIn; Talk with an individual therapist/coach who helps you get insight in your personality.
  • Try applying for jobs and see what feedback you get
  • Take away: make sure you enjoy what you do, so that you don't regret doing it even though you did not reach your eventual goal
  • I really appreciate sharing my experience with others. I know that I'm not alone in this.

Miro career and life planning 1

Miro career and life planning 2

PARENTING (2 tables)
For this theme, parents and prospective parents shared experiences and advice. How did/do you decide when to have children? How do you share and distribute childcare responsibilities? What kind of support could you use as a parent in academia? What do you take from academic life as a parent?

  • you don't need to compromise your parental life for academic demand
  • set strict boundaries between work and personal life
  • Be realistic
  • Make sure to carve out some time for you (get a hobby if you don't have one!). You will likely feel guilty but everything will be better when you are happier
  • Let go perfectionism and guilt
  • Team up with people that have similar parenting reality
  • There are lots of expectations in Dutch society of what is best for a child, but watching tv is not so bad :)
  • Good enough is good enough
  • Rolemodels are needed
  • network of support especially for single parents
  • We should not want to do it all. We are great moms!!

Miro parenting 1

Miro parenting 2

For this theme, we discussed our experiences and ideas surrounding leaders and mentors. What are the traits of a good (or bad) leader? How about a good (or bad) mentor? What kind of supervision, mentorship, or support did/do you have, and what do you wish for? How do you find a mentor and how do you become a mentor for other people? What does personal leadership mean to you?

  • Would be nice if there were mentorship systems across the university (rather than only systems to discuss research and grants)
  • Have a systematic mentorship program across disciplines, including mentoring for the mentors
  • Seek sponsors next to mentors
  • Communication required for advice on leaders that do not promote the team's well-being
  • Create shared goals / inspire ownership & collaboration
  • Identify strengths of team members & help grow
  • Support 'existing' options when they are for the best of the individual
  • I wasn't in this group but hire more junior ppl on leadership positions!

Miro leadership and mentorship 1

Miro leadership and mentorship 2

Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed to the discussions and Miro! Also, thank you to all the people who helped moderate.