Valerie Gladwell, Senior Lecturer and Course Director in Sports and Exercise Science:

In September 2000, immediately after my PhD, I took up my first Lectureship joining a small team at Essex to teach on a new Sports and Exercise Science degree. In 2003, I had my first baby. During maternity leave, the Director of Sports and Exercise Science kept in touch and I would occasionally “pop in”. I returned to work full-time within 6 months. My husband is a company director with a demanding job so I provide the main childcare. The University’s on-site nursery enabled me to continue breastfeeding. The School granted me study leave in my 2nd term after maternity leave allowing me to work more flexibly. In 2005, I had my second baby and after maternity leave, I went down to 2.5 days, increasing to 3 days the following year and my workload was adjusted in line with my new hours. The School was very supportive of these arrangements.

I continued to apply for research grants, and a male Professor encouraged me to apply for an ESRC Fellowship. I successfully gained an interview at 38 weeks pregnant and began maternity leave the following week with child number three. My application was successful and I returned after 8 months leave to take up the Fellowship at 3 days per week, increasing to 4 days towards the end of the grant. I returned to normal research and teaching in 2012 and dropped back down to 3.5 days.

The School’s positive ethos around part-time and flexible working and the ability to adjust my hours to accommodate my changing needs has allowed me to maintain a healthy work- life balance without adversely affecting my career prospects. I have an excellent support network from colleagues in the School as well as a supportive husband.

"The School's positive ethos around part-time and flexible working has allowed me to maintain a healthy work-life balance without adversely affecting my career prospects"

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