Today’s featured member profile comes from the brilliant Ros Wong, take it away Ros!
Member: Ros Wong
My research has a focus on the highly contentious issue of saving for retirement — why do women never seem to have enough, with the most vulnerable being single and/or self-employed women. I centre on self-employed women residing in within rural, regional and metropolitan South Australia. Incorporating a trans -disciplinary approach to the project, I develop a Multi-Level Model of Retirement Planning (MMRP), to identify how the fields of finance, social relationships and health within the macro, meso and micro levels of society affect women’s retirement planning.
What drew you to this topic?
A vested interest and maybe a chance to make sure other women do not end up like me. I have no super. Retirement age has come quicker than I thought it would. I quite clearly remember sitting in a musty nursing school listening to an equally musty old gentleman explaining that a private National Health Service Pension would be vital to having a good retirement. Wise words.
My husband and I moved to Australia in 1981. Our house in the UK didn’t sell before we left, so to pay for airfares it was decided that I would use my pension fund to pay for the airfares.Never mind, retirement is years away, I will put it back when I start working. It never happened, I am not alone.
Although some self-employed women are successful at retirement planning many are not. Many like me, thought ‘I will do it at some stage’ — the day never came. Why? And like a light bulb going off, there was my thesis. Retirement planning is not just about saving money there are so many aspects to this complex process.
What have been the highlights of your RHD journey?
Highlights, is it sending off the book chapter that you thought would never be good enough, presenting at a national conference and seeing people genuinely interested in your research or is it simply sharing a coffee with a friend and gaining clarity over something that has been puzzling you for days. All of these I think make the RHD journey an unforgettable experience, a journey that has highlights only an RHD student will understand. For me, it has also been the opportunity to write on what I am passionate about. Making good friends outside of my daily life, that are supportive, understanding and most of all empathetic of my elation and despair. One unexpected highlight was the professional development programs our university runs. I never thought in a million years I would be saying that, but I have learnt so much.
What do you wish you had known before you started?
Be kind to yourself. Talk to the other PhD students — you are not alone. Own your research — it’s yours. Oh, and the printer will never work when you need to print an article off that you have just found, and is crucial to your research, so crucial it cannot be saved as a PDF on your computer. Paper is a prized commodity!
What advice would you give to others who are either just beginning, or contemplating starting postgraduate study?
Make a friend or two, one that listens, understands and is compassionate. A thesis is time consuming, it slowly but surely shrouds your whole life, so self-care is important. Remember to take time out and enjoy the simple things that we often overlook, your family, friends, companion animals or just go for a walk. Do not over commit yourself, be conscious of your limitations, such as time. Accept teaching opportunities, but within reason. Keep writing.
What do you do when you aren’t working on your research?
Four children who are all grown up still keep me on my toes, as two are chefs and run a restaurant, therefore mum is always a good back-up when they are short-staffed. I love spending time with my companion animal Willow, who often feels extremely neglected (she sulks when the headphones go on). Once a week I teach English as a second language at a migrant centre in Adelaide, which is challenging and completely different from my uni work, so it’s a great diversion technique.
Thanks Ros! If you think you could answer our 6 quick questions, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org