Andrew Alden at about.com received a question from a reader. She’s in her second year studying geology in Australia, she likes hard rock stuff, she thinks mining and petroleum sound interesting, and she’s worried about juggling it all with a small child.
I teach a fair number of non-traditional students, and I’ve got a number of advisees with small children. We talk about how to juggle coursework and kids a lot (especially when kids are sick, or schools have vacations), but I haven’t had that many long talks with them about jobs (yet). There are geology jobs near my town – engineering geology for housing developments, oil & gas exploration and production, environmental firms, a couple coal mines across the border in New Mexico. Some jobs require (or make possible) crazy schedules – some former students have logged core for natural gas wells and worked like mad for many days straight, and then had long periods off. (Good if your goal is to work and then go on the river, but not so good if you want to match your schedule with daycare.) But other jobs run similar hours to other professional work. (And they cover the full range of jobs around here – engineering geology, petroleum, the coal mine… oh, and teaching high school earth science.) And I know former students (female and male) with young kids who have managed them.
I don’t know the job situation in Australia. But I know that around here, there are jobs that don’t require leaving the family for long periods of time. (I also know that many members of the Association for Women Geoscientists are frustrated with the lack of part-time geoscience jobs, and with the options for women who return to the workforce after time away. So it’s far from perfect, but it’s possible.)
What about you, readers? Advice for her?