Science - May 8, 2015

Doctoral students do not want children during promotion

Rob Ramaker

The majority of Wageningen Doctoral Students do not want to have children during their promotion. This emerged from a survey held yesterday during the second PhD symposium.

Produce or Reproduce? That is the question Neli Prota asked, who became a mother of two herself during her promotion, yesterday in the Forum building. The doctoral students in the audience could indicate with tables to what extent they currently had a child wish. The vast majority - 61 percent – is not considering children yet. 23 percent do think about it, while the rest already has children.

It is tough not to take criticism on my presentation personally, it is my presentation.

It seems logical not to have children as a doctoral candidate, stated Prota. A PhD program is surely already stressful enough. And of course you want to write many and proper papers. Still, she encourages the audience to look at it from the other side. During a doctoral program you have a lot of flexibility in working hours and working places. In addition, your financial position is safe in comparison to post-docs who work mostly on short-term contracts. Would a nursery on the campus help PhD students herewith? The tables immediately showed that 100 percent of the doctoral students think it would.

During the sessions, they also discussed the obstacles and problems associated with the promotion time. Many candidates appeared to find communicating with their supervisor difficult. Not only is there a large difference in knowledge, but supervisors also often have little time. However the doctoral students are also critical about themselves. The young researchers find it difficult to be open to feedback. ‘It is tough not to take criticism on my presentation personally," said one listener, "It is my presentation.’


Besides survival skills for doctoral students the content took center stage yesterday. Several PhD students told about their research. Here again it became apparent how diverse Wageningen University is. Among the approximately 90 visitors were researchers from almost all continents. They presented about a variety of scientific fields, from nitrogen use in agriculture to fundamental research in the defense of bacteria.

This broad view is a conscious choice, says Chantal Vogels, organizer on behalf of the Wageningen PhD council (WPC). The WPC wants to bring researchers with different backgrounds in touch  with one another. ‘Perhaps new collaborations will generate through these interactions.’

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  • Gerben

    Ik kan me voorstellen dat je dergelijk pas gaat overwegen als je uberhaupt een relatie hebt/samenwoont. Als je daarvoor zou corrigeren denk ik dat de percentage 'overwegers' hoger uit zou vallen. (i.e. niet zo gek dat dat nu laag ligt)

    • Hamkaas

      Overigens vind ik 61% geen "overgrote" meerderheid.

    • Deelnemer

      En we praten hier over een man/vrouw of 30, die in de zaal zat, van een totale PhD populatie van veel meer. Dus ja, het is een leuke titel die de aandacht trekt, maar nee, je kunt hier helemaal niets uit concluderen.