Women of Wildlife Work/Life Balance – Does It Really Exist?

Ensuring a healthy balance between work or school and the rest of your life, either in resource management or academia, can be challenging. This symposium addresses several barriers and obstacles to achieving work/life balance and presents several solutions. The main topic areas addressed are: raising a family, caring for elderly relatives, student and early-career issues, single person issues, planning for the unexpected, health issues, and employer responsibilities/recommendations. Speakers will give real-life examples of how they and others have dealt with these issues. There will also be time for audience participation and discussion.

1:30PM Balancing Life As a Professional with Family
  Shadaesha Green
Work-family balance refers to the allocation of time a working professional must generate to find stability between work and home responsibilities. Women in the scientific community for years have found ways to juggle managing their schedules to balance experiments, field work, manuscript and grant writing, professional meetings, mentoring, deadlines, and milestones for both work and personal life events. Being a mother and a scientist presents its own unique delights and hardships. As scientists we expect to there to be some unpredictability in our research and when you combine this with organizing and managing playdates, school plays, sports, music lessons, family vacations and trips to urgent care, we’ve now created the perfect balancing act. As awildlife professional the boundaries between work and life are easily blurred when the demands of the lab work, field work, administration, teaching, and mentoringpeak simultaneously with family milestones. It becomes important to be flexible with your professional life while also actively drawing boundaries and building in family time when work related tasks begin to enter into your personal life. In this talk we will share our tips to managing life as a female professional with a family from the perspective of a graduate student, postdoc and faculty member.
1:50PM Managing/Balancing Life with Elder Care
  April Croxton
According to a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 44 million Americans provide 37 billion hours of unpaid care for adult family members. In 2030, the 65+ age group is expected to reach an estimated 70 million people, with many of this group choosing to stay home to be cared for by relatives. Reports also indicate that majority of caregivers are between the age of 35-64, and most are employed. Providing elder care can oftentimes negatively impact work performance and attendance of the caregiver. The aim of this presentation is to bring awareness to elder care as an emerging component of work-life balance discussions. This presentation will highlight personal experiences of professionals providing elder care while still remaining active in the wildlife and fisheries communities. Useful strategies aimed at maintaining a healthy balance between personal and professional responsibilities will also be shared.
2:10PM Work/Life Balance Issues for Single People
  Ginny Seamster
It may appear that people in the workplace who are single have it easy. They have no significant others or children to whom they are accountable and can come and go as they please. There are downsides to being single, even for those who have actively chosen to be so. This presentation will focus on some of these challenges, as well as some potential solutions. Single people may be left out of social situations at their workplace or there may be few social events that support social network formation in the workplace. In many work environments, a high percentage of professionals are married and have children. This can make it challenging for single people to make friends in the workplace, especially when it comes to spending time with coworkers outside of working hours. Single people can also be the target for office gossip, speculation, or well-meaning yet highly intrusive “match-making” efforts by their coworkers, which can compound feelings of not belonging. Single people may also be treated differently than married people and, unconsciously, held to a different standard or left out. The assumption may be that they have more time and can be called on to work weekends or late shifts more often than their married colleagues. Single people may not have a support network when they are sick or otherwise need help in their personal lives. This can lead to things being left undone or illnesses lasting longer. Potential solutions are for professionals and supervisors to be cognizant of their treatment of and assumptions about their single colleagues, including recognizing that single people need down time just as much as married colleagues. Setting up a protocol for checking in with single colleagues when they are sick can alleviate stress associated with getting to doctor’s appointments or picking up prescriptions.
2:30PM Panel Discussion Work/Life Balance Re Families/Elder Care/Singles
  Kathy Granillo
This will be a facilitated question and answer session with the speakers from the first half of the symposium. We will invite the audience to not only ask questions but to also share their experiences and any solutions they may have to improve the work/life balance in the wildlife and fisheries careers. Ideas will be captured to be included in a publication based on the symposium presentations.
2:50PM Refreshment Break
3:20PM Managing/Balancing Life As a Student
  Alisa Gonzalez
Almost every individual has experienced a point in time where they have to learn to balance all aspects of their life, whether it be school, work, being a parent, or maintaining a social life. Undergraduates often come straight out of high school and have to learn to balance newly found freedom with maintaining good grades. Graduate students may already have a decent idea of how to be an adult, but they face additional challenges such as conducting research and funding their degree while still maintaining a high GPA. On top of being a student, paying for living expenses by working can make life even more complicated. It can be easy for a student to fear they are the only one struggling with these issues. Our goals are to let students know they are not alone, that many face these problems, and that finding a balance is possible and reasonable. We will provide personal experiences and helpful tips on how to live a well-balanced lifestyle with minimal stress in the face of school, work, and maintaining a social life.
3:40PM Work/Life Balance Issues for Students
  Rebekah Mullen
Balancing work and life can be difficult for everyone. Doing so as a student can be even more challenging. This discussion will focus on student life as an undergraduate and trying to take on large, impersonal classes, a full time job, being a full time student, and maintaining personal health. Undergraduate classes at large universities often feel impersonal and students often struggle with relating them to their degree plan. The pressure from trying to maintain grades can often add to stresses caused by financial struggle and homesickness. This discussion will also focus on sexism, romantic pressures, and mental healthcare for students within wildlife. Being a student in Texas means being surrounded by amazing wildlife and endless opportunities within the field. The student perspective is important when evaluating attempts to balance work, life, school, and health.
4:00PM Role of Physical/Mental Health in Work/Life Balance
  Nivette M. Perez-Perez
Life balance feels like a smooth enjoyable boat ride. It depends on each individual’s prioritization between time at work (“must do”) and other life experiences (“want to do”). Finding life balance is a dynamic, deeply personal, and often challenging process that must be exercised on short and long-term bases. Physical health, as paddling, and mental health, as tracing a boat’s course, are required to operate in unison. To achieve balance, each individual must identify the personal and environmental factors that should be modified in order to allow leisure as they advance professionally. Studies show that many students and professionals fail to develop this balance, which can result in dire consequences. We present the real-life example of a female fisheries graduate student who found her physical/mental health balance through the defense system of Krav Maga. We will discuss the challenges and obstacles encountered during her academic development and how Krav Maga provided her with the tools to address and resolve them. We also explore physical/mental health balance from the professor/supervisor perspective. A female professor shares her experience and strategies to identify and help students and co-workers obtain physical/mental health balance. Some of her strategies include encouraging students to be mindful during exam time and creating flexible deadlines. Women, members from historically underrepresented groups, immigrants, students/employees and professors/supervisors that may interact with these groups can benefit from this discussion on how to achieve a smoother ride.
4:20PM Re-Imagining the Workplace? This “Work Thing” Is Not Going Away
  Jay Cox
Casual Friday. Movie theater popcorn machines in the break room. Bean bag chairs in meeting rooms. Food Truck Friday. Take your child to work day, take your dog to work day, swap places with the boss day—these are just some of the efforts to make the workplace “fun.” But even as all those Silicon Valley techies are teeter-tottering and team-building, they all have jobs to do. The “work thing” must still be accomplished. Would these perks work for Women of Wildlife? In academe? At a state agency? On site during data collection? During an hours-long drive between WMAs? Perhaps the more pertinent question is how can Women of Wildlife achieve both equity and enjoyment in the workplace? How might they create career advancement as well as room for personal development and family life? For this final session in the WOW symposium, what is the role employers can play to find the sweet spot between workers’ needs and the work? This session will explore the creative re-imaginings, the hard boundaries and the cautious compromises. Beyond Pets Day and free popcorn, good policies can be tailored to particular environments and positions in order to bridge the gap between work and life outside of work—and more importantly, demonstrate employers’ respect for employees. While work will always be more work than fun, such measures can be satisfying enough to retain valuable human resources, keep morale high(er), and make working easier for everyone. Accommodations to be discussed, with some personal insight as both employee and employer, are: creative family leave, babies in the workplace, flex time, substitute workers, remote work and telecommuting, and temporary re-assignment.
4:40PM Panel Discussion Re Students/Health/Workplace
  Kathy Granillo
This will be a facilitated question and answer session with the speakers from the second half of the symposium. We will invite the audience to not only ask questions but to also share their experiences and any solutions that may have to improve the work/life balance in the wildlife and fisheries careers. Ideas will be captured to be included in a publication based on the symposium presentations.

Organizers: Kathy Granillo
Supported by: EGDWG and NPWMWG, AFS Equal Opportunity Section

Location: Reno-Sparks CC Date: September 30, 2019 Time: 1:10 pm - 5:00 pm