Monday, March 17, 2008

Can I do this?

I had a really crummy week last week.  One of those I-hate-science-why-would-anyone-do-this-to-themselves-I’m-never-getting-out-of-bed-again kind of weeks.  But TM was awesome and perked me right up on Friday night just being awesome like he is.  So this week I’m trying to have a more positive attitude.  I’m trying to believe that I can actually do this, that I’m actually good at this, that I am a competent, even capable scientist.

And then there were babies.  My extended family added two new baby boys to their ranks on Saturday.  Babies always kind of shake me up because I want one so bad, but at the same time I know that now is not the time.  We are totally not ready to go there on so many levels, but I still have a hard time being patient, especially when there’s a fresh one (or two) around. 

And so the combination of those two things, a crappy week and two new babies, got me to thinking about women in science.  (Like that’s something new.  Thinking about women in science and gender roles and all of that has taken me over lately.  Hijacked my brain.)  It dawned on me over the weekend that there are no tenured female faculty members in my graduate program or my department that have children.  None.  I have been at this university for almost 7 years now and I can think of a grand total of two tenured mothers.  Two.  I didn’t go looking for more…it’s not like number of kids is right there under someone’s directory listing.  But still!  Even if I include non-tenured faculty, I can only come up with one more.  (Of course, it goes without saying that there are almost endless numbers of male faculty members that are tenured and have children.)

The thing is, though, I’m not bitter about all of that.  I’m not angry about it.  Well, not right now.  I’m not upset about it.  The thing that really bothers me is that I have no good female scientist role models.  I want to be an academic scientist.  I also very much want to have a family.  Is that possible?  When I’m down like I was last week, I look at this whole situation and I think, “If there are this few women that are successful academic scientists and mothers, why should I think I can do this?  What makes me different than all the other women that have tried before me?”  Am I really arrogant enough to believe that I can be different?  Do I have any reason to believe that I can not fail?  How can I believe in myself in the face of all that? 

But I’m trying to have a good attitude.  Trying to just keep pressing on maybe not think about it too much.  

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