There is a significant proportion of employees who combine paid work with caring responsibilities in all professions, and academia is no exception. Yet we tend to know very little about their experiences or what their needs are. National carers week is a reminder that they need not be invisible, and that universities can do more to support staff juggling dual roles.
There are several reasons why carers can be drawn to academic careers. It offers some flexibility and usually commands salaries that are above the national average. But the two are not as compatible as would seem at first sight. In my recent research on academic carers in UK universities, I found that this group experiences a range of difficulties, including time, emotional and health issues. Over the longer term, balancing their sometimes competing responsibilities can affect retention and career progression.
Many of the academic carers we talked to were thinking of leaving higher education or going part-time. Some struggled with getting any research done or even simply attending a conference. Carers with responsibilities for an elderly relative or for a partner with a chronic illness said they received very little support, and that picture is likely to be worsened by cuts to social care.
Source: The Guardian