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Lucie de Nooij | NIKHEF | The Netherlands

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Physics (and) life

Monday we got a phone call from a friend who had two pieces of good news: 1a) he had asked his girlfriend to marry him and 1b) she said yes and 2) she is pregnant. Wauw. Of course, such an announcement makes you think. Is (almost) 26 old?

The career planning in physics is not exactly child-proof. During university, nobody I know wanted children. During a PhD most people live abroad for a while and work very intensively towards the writing of the thesis. After the PhD you need to do two post-docs abroad. So after up to ten years of doing research in three or four different countries, you hit thirty and it is time to have a family. At that moment you find out that your boyfriend has married someone else, you probably don’t have a permanent position yet and I don’t want to raise my youngest without a father in a carbon box.

In the meanwhile, my mum has been saying stuff like: “Did you know that your PhD is an excellent time for children?” and

Apart from the hair color, this could be me.

Apart from the hair color, this could be me.

“The good thing about having children before thirty is that you will have lot’s of energy for them” and when I told her about my low blood pressure: “That is very handy during pregnancy”. The last one comes from experience, and although she never did a PhD herself, I start to think that there may not be a non-inconvenient moment anyway…

These are the kind of moments I am jealous of my male colleagues: they can have children until they are 60. Tja.

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