I have an interview on Wednesday and one of the topics the reporter wants to discuss is how to get more women interested in science. I will take this opportunity to rephrase the issue as how to retain more women in science. In my experience, women made up 50-80% of the students in Earth Sciences during my undergraduate, masters, and PhD. I think there might be a decrease in the female to male ratio after that point, but need to search for some statistics. Then I revisited the Earth Science Women’s Network page:
Their website notes two major concerns of women in the Earth Sciences: Work-life balance and role models. I feel very fortunate that I worked with my role model during my undergraduate. I worked in her lab on sediment cores from lakes in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, then she brought me to Antarctica to search for Southern Elephant Seal remains. My research path could have gone in MANY different directions, but because of her dynamic research, stellar teaching, local family, and approachable personality, I could visualize my future through her lifestyle. You cannot underestimate the power of thinking, “Yes, I can.”
The work-life balance is another struggle, facing both men and women in academics. I am working on this, started taking a yoga class and will go to Scottish dancing this week. Time flies when you have classes and research and conferences and grants and publications blah blah, and I’m trying to pull myself away to maintain a healthy balance. This situation may also improve with a role model. My PhD advisors were both young men starting their families, and watching them juggle family life with fieldwork, conferences, teaching, and pesky graduate students helped me think about how I might handle this work load if I have kids.