My progression in academia seems permanently blocked — should I give up?

I spent my entire life wanting to be a research scientist. I never went to high school but as an adult I have obtained undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in sciences and management, and I am now finishing a PhD.

However, I have been strongly discouraged from applying for top fellowships. I have published a couple of good papers on my PhD, I work part-time for a consortium at my university and have set up multidisciplinary collaborations. Yet it still seems doors are closed to me. Should I just give up? Female, 30s

Jonathan’s answer will appear on Monday November 30.

Jonathan Black is director of the Careers Service at the University of Oxford. Every fortnight he answers your questions on personal and career development, and working life. Do you have a question for him? Email


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