The opportunity to travel and to work with scientists all around the world was always a very exciting and thrilling experience for me. For a long time, work always came first and balancing my professional and private life was not always easy. However, as the years went by, the desire to start a family grew stronger. 

When I found out the great news of my pregnancy I was just planning a workshop in Illinois. My first point of contact was the company doctor and he gave me discreet and helpful advice on the topic of traveling during pregnancy. At first I wanted to start the trip but a few days before departure I was not in the best of health and travelling during the covid pandemic would have been an additional risk. It gave me a stomach ache that despite all the effort, I would not be able to present my work. I confided in Carolin and she offered to fill in. At the workshop she presented not only her scientific work, but also introduced our local JuWinHPC network, took care of our guest speaker and led a panel discussion – all with a persuasiveness that no one else could have provided! This experience helped me to continue handing in tasks.

I also took advantage of the offer from the Equal Opportunities Bureau to get professional support. Here I received valuable advice, for example on how I could best divide the upcoming parental leave. I further sat down with my department head to design a plan to redistribute my work during maternity and parental leave and he has been very supportive. I was able to pass on some of my tasks, and I put others on hold. While normally I often have meetings outside of my working hours with colleagues from different time zones and moreover I travel a lot, from that time on I was primarily provided with internal tasks and worked more often from home. 

However, there was at least one trip I wanted to take: The defense of my doctoral thesis in Dresden. After successfully completing, although it was obvious that I would only be available part-time in the future, I became leader of a research group at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre. I am one of the few scientists who is lucky to work on a permanent position and Forschungszentrum Jülich is a very family-friendly company. But not only here but also on an international level, colleagues have been very understanding and helpful!

About Ruth Schöbel

Ruth Schöbel is working at Jülich Supercomputing Centre. She studied Mathematics and is also trained as a mathematical-technical software developer. Ruth recently became the head of the ATML “Advanced Time Integrators. In collaboration with the FH Aachen, University of Applied Sciences, she holds mathematical lectures and also as a leader of the Joint Laboratory for Extreme Scale Computing she is particularly interested in promoting young talents. In addition, the topic of underrepresentation of women and the compatibility of work and family is particularly important to her. She is about to start a family and is happy to report on the challenges this brings to her professional life.

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