When is the best time to have children?
Video clip: Sally had a career break for nine years so that she could look after her children. She returned to work on a Wellcome Trust Career Re-Entry Fellowship.
At that point, I was in a position where I had a very stark choice to make, and the choice being, to become independent and start my own group or to have children. It didn’t seem at that point a possibility to do both at the same time. This was back in the 19, early 1990s, and the ability to have maternity leave was extremely restrictive at the time. It’s improved enormously since then, but at the time it didn’t seem possible to, to do those two things simultaneously successfully. And so I decided to do one and then the other. So I had my children first, and I had three children and then I came back into science, into research on a Wellcome Career Re-entry Fellowship, and restarted my career. Whilst I’d had my children, I was still keeping up with science because I was teaching at undergraduate level and so I was able to keep up to date with everything. But I wasn’t obviously doing research at the bench.
Are you glad that you’ve come back full time?
Yes, I am glad that I’ve come back full time. But I wouldn’t say that I have managed it completely. I mean I have definitely been restricted because of those things and I definitely feel that if I had not taken a career break, that if I had carried on and either not had children, or left my children until a later stage, or if I’d more support whilst raising those children to be able to carry on in full time research, that I would probably be at a higher level now than I am.