I love what I do and I think I am quite good at it. I publish with excellent journals and my PhD book will shortly be published by a top University Press. Despite this I’m finding academia harder and harder. I can’t stand the lack of ethics among the Level E cohort, and the way that fixed term junior postdocs hired for as long as they serve that professor’s immediate needs, and then turfed out like trash. Senior academics seem to forget what it is like to have a mortgage, kids or other responsibilities, so act as if it is no big deal when junior staff contracts end and there is no hope on the horizon. I find myself advocating every day for those worse off than me. The casuals, those whose contracts are up. But it isn’t easy when my situation is almost as precarious on short fixed term contracts. I hope it doesn’t come back to bite me, but I can’t turn a blind eye and I refuse to be complicit in the exploitation of my peers. Being a precarious academic has a gendered impact too. I have had a number of short-term contracts in a row now, so I qualify for maternity leave (and am of an age where I need to have kids soon if I am ever going to do this). But what am I meant to do? Get pregnant on week 1 of my next contract, then get only three months of maternity leave and no prospect for contract extension? It is the latter that is particularly scary, even if I could manage the financial loss. What chance would I have of getting another contract if I took even six months out? I know so many precarious junior female academics who are taking only six months of mat leave. Is this a financial decision, or is it because they don’t think their careers can survive a longer disruption? I suspect it is the latter for many of them. Finally, I’m used to precarity now and I’m not worrying about the end of my contract yet. But I just discovered that it is a huge source of stress for my partner. His job has been a bit unstable of late, and I realised that part of his stress about his job is that he knows he needs a good ongoing job because we can’t rely on me getting contract renewals forever. The money I earn is great for now…but how long will it last? So the strain reverberates across families, even if I personally think I’ve learned to manage the precarity quite well.

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