Balancing career and family life

Juggling family life with children and an academic career is today a difficult project for both men and women.

The professional commitment required of researchers (overtime, involvement in the institution, mobility), and the precariousness of working conditions below professorship level (fixed-term contract, low salaries, particularly for lower intermediary staff) are two factors explaining this difficulty.

However, the burden weighs differently on women than on men. Because of the traditional model of the division of labour, it is women, in all professions, who are still largely expected to combine work and family life. Indeed, the norm and model couple, as well as the working and salary conditions, would have it that where heterosexual couples are concerned, it is generally the woman who adapts her career to that of her partner.

Therefore as well as compulsory maternity or paternity leaves, Swiss universities today have structures and reception facilities for children, and often offer the possibility of extending a fixed-term appointment (for example research assistants, tenure-track posts, etc.). Universities are also increasingly willing to consider part-time posts, or even job-sharing.

Detailed information about working conditions offered to employees with parental responsibility is available from human resources departments and/or the equal opportunities offices  of each university.

The HESB offers a useful conciliation section (in French or German) comprising general information (including the support of elderly close relations), legal basis (LPers/OPers) and two original downloadable brochures : Concilier travail et famille dans une haute école & La Maternité, comment s'y preparer ?