Saturday, October 21, 2017
Last updated: 2 years ago

Women’s Supplement: The ‘love professor’ talks single motherhood

Marina Adshade teaches ECON 351: “Women in the Economy” at UBC while also raising two children as a single mother. Photo courtesy Marina Adshade

In addition to being a sessional lecturer of economics at UBC, Marina Adshade is also a single mother of two. How has she juggled a career in academia with raising a son and daughter?

Her first child, a daughter, was two years old when Marina began her undergraduate degree at York University, and her son was born in the first term of her PhD at Queen’s University. She completed her doctorate in four years, finishing significantly earlier than average, despite being the only caregiver to both of her children. The faculty at Queen’s was very supportive; Marina even shared a nanny with one of the professors in her department for a period. Daycare services were available on campus, proving to be flexible on timing and fees, which permitted her to fit childcare around her busy PhD workload, rather than the other way around.

Adshade described her schedule during the most hectic time as having consisted of “putting [her] kids to bed at 8 p.m., working until 2 a.m. and getting up at 7 a.m.” to repeat the cycle all over. How did she make room for a social life? Outside schooling and socializing with fellow parents over playdates, “there wasn’t one,” she said, laughing.

Adshade also conceded that there’s really no such thing as “the perfect timing to have children,” considering that regardless of circumstances, parents are going to “make it work, one way or another.”

Adshade never envisioned graduate school when beginning her education, but chose to pursue it when she learned she was expecting her son, because it was a path to creating better professional opportunities to ultimately help in raising her children.

Prior to UBC, Marina worked at Dalhousie University and lived in France for one year, where she wrote her book. In spite of all the travel and moving around, Adshade says her children, one of which is currently studying at UBC, have no complaints.

Something Adshade hasn’t really seen in her one year at UBC is children brought by their parents along to lectures. She recalls how during her undergraduate degree, her daughter would sit and colour in large lectures as Adshade would learn, and it appears to be less common at UBC. In regards to her own department, she says the Department of Economics has been “very supportive,” and there seem to be many members of the faculty and staff with children, such that events for the department often accommodate family needs and are geared to be family friendly.

She teaches a course, ECON 351: “Women in the Economy,” which has previously examined trends in fertility. Though the notion of women with more education choosing to have fewer children is somewhat accurate, it has begun to change. Gradually, more educated women, such as those with professional and academic graduate degrees, are experiencing an increase in their fertility rates. Adshade says this trend is related to the rising expenses of having kids, as those earning good incomes can afford more children.

Another noteworthy trend is that “well-educated men are increasingly married to women who are as well, or better, educated as themselves.” There are roughly 125 women to 100 men with university degrees in the 25 to 44 age group in Canada, so it is becoming that “an ambitious woman, who works hard, finds somebody who is invested in her own career too.” What new couples appear to be doing is “working towards finding better balances.” Relationships are now moving towards “ambitious, career-invested women actively seeking out a partner interested in an even share of responsibilities at home,” rather than delegating the balance of the housework to the woman.

And although more people than ever are choosing to spend a significant portion of their lives single, “people are now spending a lot more of their lives searching longer, searching better, and searching in a bigger market,” according to Adshade. The end result is more stable marriages than in the past. Being better educated, rather than preventing parenthood as often believed, can also be an incentive for having more children.

Adshade recently authored a book, “The Love Market: What You Need to Know About How We Mate, Date and Marry,” examining relationship formation from an economic standpoint. Over and above her published work — which includes a myriad of articles for publications like The Globe and Mail — and teaching, she is also involved with the upcoming Canadian Economics Association Conference, leading a panel on maternity and its effects on academic life. In addition to ECON 351, she also has taught a wide variety of courses, ranging from first-year introductions to economics to fourth-year seminars for economics majors.

  • Alex

    How come this article excludes transgendered females?

  • Margareta Daisy Dovgal

    What about them? I think everyone would agree that they receive an overwhelming majority of the support, especially when it comes to so-called women’s issues.

    • Andrew F.

      What about my father who likes to dress up like a woman