Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Deadline season

It's deadline season in my little tight field, which means that the yearly deadline for submitting papers to the major conference is coming up very soon. Everyone I know are frantically working overtime to collect the last bits of data, running analyses on it and writing up contributing results. Contribution is of course key, if a paper does not contribute with something 'new', it will not be accepted to this top-notch conference with a 20% acceptance rate. I submit on average 2-3 papers here each year and publish almost half of those, actually putting me in a group with a better average than the conference itself, something I should be happy and proud of. And of course I am.

What I'm not proud of is the tendency I have to push paper writing (and sometimes analysis) to last minute, like many of my colleagues. Back pre-baby this just meant a week of 14 hour work days but with a child, this is more complicated; she needs to be fed, played with and put to bed. Yet, I still for some reason push work to last minute, imagining that I will be able to work after Zoe is in bed. Last year around this time I managed to finish a rough paper in a week exactly this way. I slept 5 hours per night and the morning after the deadline, I dropped Zoe of in daycare and went straight back home, sleeping until early afternoon. The paper got in. It had a contribution.

Tomorrow I get Zoe back after 5 days away; I woke up crying on Sunday because I missed her so much. I'll pick her up early and take her to a playground and we will get ice-cream. I'll let her help me make pizza (she loves her rolling pin) and we will watch Danish kids tv together before reading a few bedtime stories. I'll see what my paper looks like after she is asleep. Perhaps I won't have any energy to continue working on it but I don't care. I have her almost every day until the deadline and I'm very aware I might not come up with those key contributions my two papers still need. And so be it.

It was no news to me that women pay a huge career price for having children, but new studies surfaced online yesterday confirming this outside academia as well. They even controlled for hours worked and socioeconomic level. On the one hand this kind of knowledge gets me down, but on the other hand it gets me furious and makes me want to work harder to prove the stats wrong. But it's a catch 22. To get more done, more hours are needed. These hours are directly taken away from me spending time with Zoe because I already optimized most optimizable parts of my life. But I'm not willing to do that. It's not Zoe's fault that I have a major deadline. She misses her mom as much as I miss her and she hopes to spend time with me. And I can't help thinking that this is exactly how I'll end up being a perfect example of the statistics.

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