After completing my PhD at the University of Western Ontario (Canada) in 2002, I joined the School as a full-time lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology. My career has followed a typical path, having successfully completed period of probation in 2005 and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2011.
Because the School had no previous history of arranging maternity coverage for academic members of staff, it was with some trepidation that I informed our newly appointed Head of School (Prof Kathy Armour) of my pregnancy in 2012. But, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she supported the need for a maternity leave cover and made arrangements for this to happen. Human Resources was also very helpful in making me aware of the different leave options, including keeping in touch days as well as the kinds of support the University provided in terms of childcare payments.
I was involved with selecting my maternity leave cover and finished work with the assurance that my teaching and research supervision was being left in very capable hands. During my leave, I was able to keep in contact with my colleagues via email or telephone. At no time did I ever feel that my leave was an inconvenience or burden to the School and felt very valued by the support given.
My transition back to work was helped by having some overlap with my maternity leave cover as well as the autonomy to set my own hours in the case of childcare and illness. I was very grateful to have these flexible work arrangements, which allowed me to plan meetings around having both a lengthy commute and young son who was still nursing. Having my own office and a supportive co-worker who lent me a fridge meant that I could also express and store breast milk until my son was ready to wean.
Early after I returned to work, I was also able to have an open conversation with my Head of School and Head of Education about my workload and received reassurance regarding making the transition back to work. I was actively encouraged to pursue research and grant opportunities that enabled me to keep on track for applying for promotion to Reader in 2014-2015. I was also awarded a small pot of money to help kick start my research again, which has subsequently led me receiving over £250,000 in external funding in the 12 months since returning from maternity leave.
See Jennifer's staff profile