I read this Nature series on Women in Science and it's worth reading and re-reading. It's inevitable to get frustrated and let innocuous issues keep us from seeing the bigger picture. The article states some of the challenges that sets women back in science. Of course, the number one issue is childcare. There is not a good answer and I think many of us handle it very differently depending on our resources and circumstances. I used to get upset to learn about physician mothers who chose part-time practice to take care of their children...I though how sexist was this? Why doesn't the husband do that? But, now I understand. Our values and priorities change with children and success is measured very differently. Parents understand this very well even if the rest of the world doesn't.
For the rest of us who are fortunate to have support and resources to allow us to continue to pursue professional success, I think the Nature articles articulate methods to help us do that. Here are some particularly great insights from this article and others that I've read that I thought were valuable for me:
- Start a blog. This is a great way to get your research out and reach the larger population. I also found out that blogging helped me other skills like learning how to create websites, and becoming familiar with PC casting, etc.
- Network: I didn't realize the how true this statement is: "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours". As I highlighted in another blog, collaboration is crucial to achieve greater heights. More importantly, I learn from my colleagues and that makes me better. Partnership can definitely be a win-win.
- Hold tight: I get inpatient sometimes and holding tight is very hard for me to do at times. But, the skill to hold tight in high pressure moments and stressful periods will keep us from committing unintentional but significant errors. Truthfully, I'm still learning but time and experience help.
- Produce quality: this is a given but it easy to take short cuts especially when we're tired. Honestly, I have been distracted from working towards this at times. It's hard to see this as one of the most important habits we can develop especially when we have competing interests like research, teaching, etc. However, quality is the foundation of success and as I've seen, there is no short cut. It seems to require recognizing weaknesses and then, going through active cycles of self improvement process to get better. Being open and seeking feedback is one effective way to do this.