A Story from the University of Manitoba

 

I am somehow managing to work from home full time despite considerable barriers - in my case, a 4 and 6 year old to care for. I work while they watch tv; after they go to bed; I answer emails every chance I can during the day while they are playing together. I work on the days my husband can take away from his own paid work outside of the household – which means this summer, that every single regular leave day, family leave day, holiday day, and banked day off he takes will be a day he minds the children so I can work.

After teaching in fall and winter terms, I catch up on my research in summer; I’m leading 2 teams and collaborating on another 6 projects which focus on social aspects related to older adults, family caregivers, and/or paid home care workers; we are trying to creatively adapt data collection and methods under these new challenging circumstances. There are some who think professors pull salary from grants they receive – this does not happen. I am supervising the work of 5 students who gain paid research experience on these projects, and one PhD student who is hoping to graduate this summer (a separate project unrelated to my research). I am on candidacy examining committees for 3 other PhD students this summer, and will continue to review portions of the writing of, and attend virtual meetings with the 10 graduate students in other departments, whose committees I serve on. I am currently writing reference letters for 2 students applying for scholarship funding. I have had multiple conversations with 3 graduate students applying to study under my supervision in the coming year. Other tasks land in my email inbox on a daily basis (for instance, in the last week I received 4 separate requests to collaborate on applications for new grants). I’m the Acting Chair for the Research Ethics Board in Psychology/Sociology, and serve on our department’s Graduate Admissions Committee. All of this continues through the summer.

My work depends heavily on support staff, who help me navigate complex university systems and bureaucracies that I still haven’t been able to figure out after nearly 10 years of working here. These staff help me pay my students, get reimbursed for out of pocket expenses, prepare end of year accounting information for granting agencies, maintain the security of research data, advise me on ethical issues related to research… the list goes on, because universities are distinctly collective institutions, as much as any of us like to attribute research ‘accomplishments’ to any one individual.