Friday, December 21, 2012

Kids these days

I recently had a conversation with a good friend about having babies. Which in itself isn't extraordinary - it seems to me that many conversations with women friends in stable relationships eventually touch on babies, and specifically, when to have them. My friend was contemplating having children soon because she couldn't see a better time in the near future. We talked about having babies while in grad school, while trying to get tenure, or after tenure was procured. And I remembered a second-hand quote from a professor in my department to a grad student (the professor doesn't have children): "there's no good time to have children as an academic".

Friday, December 14, 2012

All I want for Christmas

  It's hard for me to concentrate on a serious post today. I am enjoying the end of grading combined with a part-time job by taking the day 'off' and wrapping presents, making food, and answering tons of emails. Whoops, that last part doesn't sound fun.  So in the spirit of the holidays, I have made an academic wish list.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Good-bye, semester!

  Ah, it's that time of year. When the winter holidays beckon and your comments on student work nigh disappear. They're not going to be your students for much longer, so they don't have to worry about meeting your particular standards anymore, and just want the grade. Which is good, because at this point you're tired of correcting their citations (again) and asking 'where's the hypothesis?' on their 5th report.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Writing the job application materials. FUN!

  Whelp, I've done it. I've started applying to assistant professor tenure-track positions. Despite the fact that I don't feel ready (though I suspect that I am ready), positions at four institutions in areas I want to live and that I may actually be qualified for were posted this fall. I think that each of the institutions would be a good fit in a different way, though I do have a favorite or two. I realize that four applications may not seem like a lot, but it's a start for me.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Career Paths IV - New Clinical Psychologist

  At the end of the undergrad education, the grad school, the post-doc/internship, and/or the residency/rotations, there is a job. This woman, a clinical psychologist, recently made it to that holy grail. So here are her thoughts on getting there, and on some the challenges along the way and at this new position. Thanks for sharing with me, awesome Dr. woman!

When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  An Olympic gymnast.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The best is yet to come

  A big political campaign ended on Wednesday morning, perhaps you heard about it? And perhaps you heard about the importance that women played in it, and the prominence that women's health and economic issues had in the political discussion. Perhaps you even heard that politicians with radical views were rejected by their constituents. And perhaps you know that the representation of women in the Senate will be at an all-time high. All of this gives me hope. As one friend said, "this gives me hope for all our daughters".

Friday, November 2, 2012

Remberance of math teachers past

   Last night I re-remembered a middle school teacher. I mean, that time in my life isn't one I necessarily want to remember. Let's call him Dr. Green. He did indeed have a Ph.D., and though at the time he seemed really old, I realize now that he was a young, probably idealistic, perhaps newly-minted, Ph.D.'er out to change math education in an urban middle school.  And he made an impression.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Yes Women

  This may sound familiar to you: you're offered the chance to co-write a grant proposal or a paper, or you see a call for applications or a job announcement, and you think "Yes! I should do that! As a graduate student/post-doc/early career scientist I need to do everything and anything to boost the CV and get funding. It probably won't take up too much of my time, I can do it on the weekend/in the evening/during time I use to relax."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Toddlers and Insects

  When is it not busy? When do you ever really think, hmm, there's nothing else I should be doing at this point?
  In any case, this past week was full of travel, meeting with old friends, getting a rejection letter for a manuscript (Grr! Time to work on that chapter ... again), getting grants (yea!), geeking out over plants, and playing with friends' young kids. There's nothing quite like bear-crawling with a 2-year-old around a pool and getting excited about seeing moths and ants.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Missionary Scientist?

  What do we think of religious colleges and universities?  Hmm, that's a broad question. How about, what do we think about working as professors in the biological sciences at religious colleges and universities, perhaps of a different denomination? I've been thinking about this specific question after two job postings (in locations I love) crossed my computer screen.

Friday, September 28, 2012

80 cents to the dollar

  Despite our attempts at (and pride in) objectivity, gender bias exists within the sciences (I don't think I need to cite that statement). And a new article by Moss-Racusin et al. published in PNAS shows this bias extends to hiring and pay in academic departments. This article has received a lot of attention (including articles in the New York Times, Scientific American, and Discover Magazine) and details how the same application packet was evaluated differently based on the gender of the candidate. If the application was associated with a male, the average competency rating was 4 vs. 3.3 for a female. The average starting salary for a female applicant was $26,508, almost $4,000 dollars (~87%) less than the average male starting salary.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cliche for a reason

  It’s ‘Post-doc appreciation’ week! Well, it’s the end of the week, but at least it was ‘hug a post-doc and perhaps give them a raise (please)’ week. I’m only a newly-minted post-doc, but I already realize how in-betweenish we are.

Friday, September 14, 2012

I will only work using pink pipets

  You may have already seen this video – it and responses to it made a big splash this summer, and not necessarily in a good way. It uses stereotypes of girls (makeup, beautiful models) to battle the stereotype of science (male, in a lab coat, though we do already know that lab coats are hot). When I think of all the alternatives that could send a more positive and affirming message, such as using real bad-ass female scientists doing real science (sure, take the production values up, that’s okay), I wonder why this made it so far.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Career Paths III - New Plant Biology Professor

There are the people that inspire us at a young age to pursue (in my case) science, and then there are the women that help you achieve that career. Today’s ‘career exploration’ is from a woman who mentored me while we were both in graduate school. Her enthusiasm is infectious, her lab skillz invaluable, and she was/is an amazing teacher. She’s now a new faculty member at a small liberal arts college whose students don’t know how lucky they are.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Administrative side trip

  Last week I talked about being an adjunct teacher. But I’m not just exploring that as an alternative to a tenure position. I also tried out the administrative route in an abbreviated form.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Adjunct-track professor

  I’m joining the army of adjuncts.
  But I’m doing it in a partial way. Instead of designing my own courses, I’m teaching labs for an established course with established lab modules. So in effect, I’m an adjunct TA, as I’ll be doing something very similar to my graduate school TA experience. I’m not complaining, because this is going to involve significantly less stress, but I do wonder how much it will help the ol’ C.V. In any case, it will definitely help the ol’ pocketbook.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Words from an Ecologist - Exploring Career Paths II

The next entry in my series on career options is from one of the most influential women in my life – no hyperbole. She is an ecology and environmental science professor at a mid-sized liberal arts college, and I wanted to be a scientist because of her. I found her answer to the first question to be interesting in light of this: she helped fill the void of women scientist role models, and is one of the eponymous ‘giantesses’ of this blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences, and for being a great role model!

When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Although I was always very good at math and science, I never even considered a science career until after college. This makes no sense in retrospect, especially since I was radically on board with the feminist movement way back in the 1970’s.  But it was a time of separate male and female job ads, a time without role models or mentors, a time of deeply sexist advertising, television, humor, and culture.   I had no dream job as a child that I recall, perhaps because the options seemed so very few.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Scientess Varve

  Last week I detailed my interactions with a cross-section of women in science, from high school on up. This past weekend I interacted with women that represented one layer of women in science – a varve, if you will.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Scientess Continuum

 This week I had the pleasure to work with a group of women on a new lab protocol. This group was a great representation of women in science: a high school senior interested in biology, an undergraduate sophomore double-majoring in chemistry and genetics, two research assistants (one of which has a background in microbiology and recently earned a GIS certificate), me, and a middle-school science teacher with daughters of her own who are teachers.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Exploring Career Paths I - Musician

Part of my purpose is starting this blog is to explore how women navigate a career and personal life. To that end, I’m going to start posting mini-interviews with women at all stages of their career, to document the diversity of experiences and meanings of ‘having it all’. Starting off is women very dear to me, who’s had an immeasurable positive influence on me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Talk to me, ladies!

I heard an interesting piece on NPR yesterday. I definitely suggest listening to it, if you’ve got the chance. In short, when women talk to men about their work in science and math, they sound less competent.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Already fighting...for tenure

  Last week I had a skype conversation with my Ph.D. advisor. It was the first extended ‘face-to-face’ conversation we’ve had since I deposited my thesis, and I had to remind myself that I didn’t have to be nervous.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Plan B through M

  I am pretty sure that everyone has a plan B. A ‘plan B’ that involves, in my mind, an occupation different from your chosen career path…a hobby turned into a profession, taking a favorite activity and turning it into a business, writing that book you’ve had in your head for forever. This is different than a back-up plan, which is what you’ll do, for reals, if you lost your current job.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Can I have it all?

  In my first post, I wrote that I was a young scientist that wanted to have it all. On Wednesday, Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote an amazing article for the Atlantic titled “Why women still can’t have it all”. Should I take that as my final answer?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Inner monologues

  I planned on posting every Friday. Just five posts later I’m already off schedule!

  In the past few weeks I’ve seen this article in the Guardian a few places. I recommend it because it’s a quick read with lots of interesting talking and thinking points. The gist is that most women do not want a career in academia after completing their Ph.D., based on a study of chemistry Ph.D. students in the UK.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Becoming a pseudo-alpha scientist

  In my last post I talked about a study that found that wearing a white doctor’s coat improved participants’ perception and attention skills. It’s an example of something outside of us influencing our abilities and perceptions. We take our cues from so many things – facial expressions, clothing, and body language. I recently came across a really intriguing video from one of the authors of the study “Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance” (Carney et al., 2010).

Friday, May 25, 2012

The clothes make the scientist

  I recently got a lab coat as a gift, and I of course was thrilled. The white coat is a symbol of science and the go-to prop to indicate a person’s intelligence and profession. But in graduate school, I never wore a white coat, even to do lab work. That may not have been smart, but no one else in the department consistently wore one either. My post-doc department is the same, so when I started proudly wearing mine I got noticed. The white coat, with my name stitched on it, indicated my status as a real life scientist.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What’s in a name?

  If you’re going to start a blog, of course you’ve got to have a good name. Something catchy, perhaps with a bit of an insider-message-in-joke. And you’ve got to make sure it hasn’t been taken! The idea of standing on the shoulders of giantesses is, of course, a riff of the saying “standing on the shoulders of giants”, a phrase most often attributed to Isaac Newton (so right there we’ve got a science connection!). Of course, it’s got a history before that (yes, it’s Wikipedia, but it’s interesting: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants). The original phrase specifies dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants…perhaps we early career scientists are the dwarfs, hoping to gain a little height to become giants ourselves.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Thesis Statement

  I recently finished my Ph.D. in the sciences. I’ve been lucky – I always wanted to get an advanced degree in something sciencey, so planning my life was easy for many years. High school + college + university + post-doc (+ some time wandering around) = about 15 years. But now I’m in the post-doc part of life and wondering what comes next. It’s always been vague and misty, involving a high percentage of research, perhaps some teaching, at an institution of some sort, oh and perhaps a family as well. It’s been a great experience so far, but now I wonder what that vague “early career” will entail. Do I indeed want to jump into the tenure pipeline, or do I want to enjoy a family and be a part-time scientist?