Combining family and work is always a challenge. Even more so, with a career in academia, which usually does not feature very family friendly working hours. Nevertheless, it is evident that professors – female and male – do have families. So the question is not really if it is possible but rather how.
In the newest issue of the Journal of Unsolved Questions (JUnQ), Prof. Katharina Landfester, Director at the Max Plank Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany, describes how she and her husband manage to balance their family life and scientific careers. In her remarkably personal essay, Prof. Landfester shares how her scientific career developed and what prejudices she had to face as a woman. But also, how being a director at an MPI and taking care of your children can lead to very surprised Jaguar drivers is not being left out. From going back to work 10 days after childbirth to lectures with sleeping babies and dolls learning about the world of nano capsules, the essay shows how Prof. Landfester managed to be the mother of two children and director at an MPI by following her motto: “The children must be fully integrated into our everyday life and not be separated.”
Combining family and a scientific career might in no way be child’s play, but – as Prof. Landfester shows – it is also not impossible. The important part is to be willing to try unique ways and in the end “just do it”.