Career Changes and Breaks
Career breaks are most commonly used by employees/professionals to accommodate childcare or the needs of elderly or disabled family members. Other alternatives for both men and women are flexible working, reduced hours, or term-time only working to support family commitments.
There is detailed information on the Department for Work and Pensions website regarding maternity leave, Parental leave and Career Breaks. Your employer should also publish their own policy on how leave of all kinds is dealt with in terms of your pay. Some companies, such as the Engineering Consultancy Arup, have initiatives in place such as mentoring to increase diversity and support professional women.
If you are coming back to work after a period of maternity leave, talk to your employer about flexible working on your return. Compressing your hours (for example working 4 longer days with one day off each week), working a day or so from home to reduce travel time, or cutting your time at work so that you become part-time for a period, are all options you should explore.
If you take a longer career break, sometimes getting involved in the world of work can be a daunting prospect, especially if you think your IT skills or lab skills may need refreshing. The Daphne Jackson Trust caters for this by supporting scientists and engineers returning to work through its scheme of Fellowships.
Many people change careers within their working life. For some this will mean carrying on with their established career while they gain another qualification, and this is often accommodated through continuing work full time or with reduced hours, while studying part-time (including weekends).
If you are taking a first degree course to make the switch to geology, remember that you will need to attend field courses, and that there is usually a block of 6 weeks that you will need to devote to a mapping project at the end of the second year. You may need to break this down into chunks of a few weeks and/or multiple weekends as you cannot normally take such a long period of leave all at once.