The blog Scientiae, maintained by a group blog of women in
the STEM professions, devoted its May monthly carnival -- a collection
of contributions from each blogger -- to sharing experiences on the development
of their careers. The comments, collected by blogger FlickaMawa, cover issues such as pressure to
publish, balancing family and work, meeting expectations of parents and mentors,
and hopes for the future. Women reading this blog probably will find many
familiar issues and concerns, and at least some men will find the post quite
FlickaMawa collected the contributions
from the group and posted the comments as an extended essay, with many direct
quotes from the contributors. Some of the bloggers were happy with where they
ended up; as ScienceWoman says, "My job requires both teaching and research and
expects me to be good at both. It’s not exactly what I planned, but I really
think it’s where I was meant to be." Liberal Arts Lady, however, had to make
some adjustments for the sake of her family.
I started out as a gung-ho,
I’ll-suffer-anything-for-the-project undergrad, and although I’ve really enjoyed
the majority of my field time, over the past few years I’ve become much more
reluctant and resigned to field work as actual work that also takes me away from
my home life.
The blogger Young Stellar Objects
discovered an inconvenient truth about being a postdoc.
[I]t isn’t just about having good ideas.
It’s as much about politics and networking and self-promotion and schmoozing as
it is about writing papers and winning grants. My postdoc years have been a lot
about becoming savvy about self-promotion and trying to get over being an
Hannah likewise learns that achieving
success depends as much on others as well as herself.
When it comes time to apply for faculty
positions and tenure and all that, it’s more about the impact of your research. This is where the
networking comes in: you gotta give talks, go to conferences, talk important
people up, promote your ideas, yadda yadda. You need to find people who will
promote your ideas for you as well: advisors and mentors.
There's plenty more, from overcoming
dyslexia to remembering one's favorite job.
My favorite job, bar none, was at the video store. I loved that
store. I liked the coworkers, I adored and respected my boss, I liked (most of)
the regular customers. I loved that I was getting paid to stand around talking
about movies, watching movies (free tape!), repairing broken tapes, and, best of
all, just interacting with people all day.
Hat tip: Ric Weibl, AAAS