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Shall I mention my maternity leave as a reason for not having research experience

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I wonder about if it is possible to address that i took maternity leave, and the university rules in my home country don't allow starting the graduate research project during the leave

I am a teaching assistant in the university

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What would be the main purpose of giving such a reason? If you need experience and you do not have it, my guess is that having an excuse will not help as it will not make up for not having the qualifications you need and the fact that other candidates will. If it's a requirement then consider delaying your application by a year or so to get the experience you need. If it isn't a requirement but will simply make your application stronger, feel free to try to get in with what you've got and see what happens. I wouldn't mention it if I were in your shoes as I think it would look like you are making excuses and you would be drawing further attention to a weakness, when your time and space in your SOP would be better spent describing your strengths. 

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I don't think you should mention it as an "excuse". However, I have read advice and opinions from women in academia both for and against mentioning maternity leave at all.


The advice for mentioning leave is usually to put it in your CV instead of your SOP. For example, something like "March 2013-December 2013: Maternity and Parental leave" in the appropriate spot during your experience section. This might be useful if you need to explain a gap in your history, or want to show why your degree took longer, or why your fellowship was extended etc. This advice might also make more sense for someone post-PhD too, as some fellowships/funding sources require you to be within X years of your PhD and in some cases, time on leave does not count towards this limit.


The advice against mentioning leave is that it just gives bad people another reason to discriminate against you. Also, in some countries, like the US, maternity leave is so short that it's almost not worth mentioning since it does not create any kind of gap in your history.


Note: this advice has a slightly Canadian slant. For context, in Canada, mothers can get maternity and parental leave up to a total of 52 weeks, and parents can take up to 35 weeks for parental leave. 

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