Monday, February 16, 2009

March Scientiae: Role Models

The March Scientiae is hosted by Liberal Arts Lady. This month, we of the blogosphere are asked:
Who are your role models? Who first got you interested in your field, or opened new doors for you? Who inspires you on a daily basis and makes you believe in the future of science, technology, or the world?
Excellent questions, and ones that I find difficult to answer because, at least in my field, there aren't many women who live the life that I see for myself.

Who are your role models?

I put any women in science that can have a meaningful family and social life on a pedal stool. Sadly, this doesn't include many of the real-life women I know that have children and are in my research area. To me, this just shows how incredibly difficult work-life balance is.

One of my best friends, who I've known since we were 13, is an amazing Mom and has a career in engineering. She managed to find a job share at a new company after she was finished maternity leave. Not only do I love her for her ability to have work-life balance, but she's also very real about her life and doesn't glorify it for others.

Another friend that comes to mind has just gone back to work after being away from it for a few years to be at home with her two children. The courage it took for her to go back to school to get the education for the job she has always wanted (and now has) absolutely amazes me!

Finally, I would like to give a shout out to Academomia - to me, at least in the way she portrays her life on her blog, it seems like she's handling the colliding worlds of academia and family in the best way that one can. She admits when things aren't going so well, but she's real about it. So, kudos to you, Academomia!!

Who first got you interested in your field, or opened new doors for you?

It wasn't until grade 12 that I really became interested in Astronomy - and it was because of my physics teacher. He made physics interesting by using examples in Astronomy to explain concepts instead of the typical, boring ways. It really opened my mind to the possibility of pursuing it as a career, and I have (after I found out I wasn't accepted into the music program ;)). In fact, all three of my high school physics teachers (all men) were amazing and inspiring.

Also, my masters supervisor opened the big door of graduate school without even meeting me. My grades in undergrad were not stellar (to say the least) but she took a chance on me - and I think it paid off! Without her, I wouldn't be where I am today.

Who inspires you on a daily basis and makes you believe in the future of science, technology, or the world?

This is going to sound hokey, but my DH inspires me daily with his enthusiasm and love of his work. It scares me to think about a lot of students taking over the reigns, but I know he will be so successful at anything he chooses to do.

I am also in constant awe of my friends that are also in graduate school, or who now have moved on to post-doc or other positions. It has been inspiring to see them grow as scientists, and as people in general.

In the end, I find it unsettling that I have a hard time finding female role models. There should be more women in the sciences that can lead the life they want and not feel they have to sacrifice their other roles as wife (or fiance or girlfriend), mother, daughter, sister, or friend. I believe there should also be more discussion of how we, as young scientists, can begin to change this pattern. Not only that, as I think discussions have been ongoing for years, but it's time to take action. In order to do so, we need the support of our male colleagues, so we can create that change as a whole.