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.
Let me first say thank goodness for the men and women who
coordinate departments, programs, and classes, often behind the scenes. Having
tried it myself for a few months, though, I’m pretty sure it’s not for me. I
coordinated a summer program for undergraduates, from the application process
back in December through to the closing symposium a few weeks ago. I booked
tickets, found housing, and managed funds, and I think I did well at it. You
know what? I can brag – I was dang good at it, especially as it was my first try.
The skills involved in a Ph.D., such as managing data, communicating, hitting
deadlines, etc., transferred easily. But I got most excited at the end when I started
helping students with their final posters. That was what I knew – how to write
an Introduction with limited space, how to communicate findings in a concise
way, and how to make a poster easy to read. I regretted getting to know the
students through their housing problems and not through their research
problems. I’m aware that a tenure track job, among many other jobs, requires good administrative skills for managing grants and departmental duties, and
this was a great way to try out the administrative side of the sciences. I
considered, briefly, applying for a full time position at my institution that
is 50% research assistant and 50% administration. But I think in the end, I
would miss the science too much and stress out too much about plane tickets.
On a side note, as the fall
continues, I know that writing a blog will get more difficult. When I started
the blog, I had one part-time job, and now I’ll have two, which we all know
probably adds up to more that 100%. I’ve had less time to research (ahem, surf
the interwebs) about the issues I know affect women in the sciences, so the
posts are more personal. Although it can be a bit like navel gazing, I really
do find it useful. It’s made me consider what I really want in a career (though
I guess I’m still working that out) and also ask other women who I admire about
their choices. I've also become more aware of gender imbalances and related problems and work more actively to counter them.