Three cheers for the Dean

I have been wanting to talk to the Dean of my college about my delight at the sudden increase in women faculty in my college, and about ways to help us/or keep us moving up the pipeline successfully. Why did I want to do this? Well, to a certain extent this is enlightened self interest (i.e. I’m a female junior faculty member). But- I want to do everything in my power to stop the drain of women from the pipeline, and that means keeping those currently in the pipeline right where they are and moving up. I think changes like this start at home, and I had already talked to my department chair about this and about my approaching the dean and I had my chair’s blessing.

Yesterday, I just happened to look through the glass into the Dean’s office and see Continue reading

Shuffle meme…

Mad Hatter tagged me for this one (whew, I need a break from these crazy blogosphere pyramid games…)..but I am a music-aholic so I’ll play along…

And now, the shuffle meme:

  • Step 1: Put your MP3 player or whatever on random.
  • Step 2: Post the first line from the first 25 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song
  • Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.
  • Step 4: Strike through when someone gets them right.
  • Step 5: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING

And trust me, there are some embarrassing ones in there! Continue reading

academic career NOT

Since I wrote the post about interviewing where I discussed whether one should talk about one’s family or not during an interview… I’ve been thinking a lot about this… and about role models, about how having career and family differs for men and women, about my own experience. It feels so odd to talk about this publicly- but people who know me well know that my family is extremely important to me.

If you have read the ‘about me’ tab- you probably realize that I have quite a complicated academic and personal history. That short paragraph looks so tidy on the page- but believe me, it wasn’t like that in real life. I always tried to go forward with the idea of keeping my options open- not closing any doors Continue reading

Cult Fiction Meme…

Bikemonkey tagged me with the cult fiction meme… so here goes…

John Lynch pulled a list of 50 “Cult Fiction’ books from The Telegraph which defined the category (in part) as follows.

Cult books include some of the most cringemaking collections of bilge ever collected between hard covers. But they also include many of the key texts of modern feminism; some of the best journalism and memoirs; some of the most entrancing and original novels in the canon.

The schema is simple, boldface books you’ve read and italics font books you started but never quite finished. Now, on to the list: Continue reading

Unsolicited Advice: Job Search (Pt. 11)


Now that we have covered the preparation and practice of your interviewing ‘seminar’ and the chalk talk- we can spend a few minutes on the interview itself. Usually the inviting department will prepare a schedule for your visit- hopefully you will get a copy of this schedule a few days before you are to travel. Make sure you get a copy in advance… if necessary, ask nicely. Continue reading

Now what?

Well, my soccermom-dom has reached a critical point. Most of the members of my older daughter’s soccer team, including the coach, are going to go competitive next season (i.e. no longer ‘recreational’ now ‘club’). This transition involves try-outs, and if she makes the team there will be lots of traveling to games out of town, two tournaments per semester, and a much longer soccer season. The traveling will involve at least 3 hours of driving for 1/2 of the season’s games, in addition to two practices per week and the regular schedule of home games that we currently have.

I am honestly conflicted about whether or not we should let her play up to club soccer. Continue reading

Unsolicited Advice: Job Search (Pt. 10)

Chalk Talks. A second type of talk you may be asked to give on your interview visit for an academic position is a more informal presentation called a ‘chalk talk’. Some places will ask you to give these, some will not- and the format varies between institutions. I know of departments that ask you to prepare a short PowerPoint presentation for your chalk talk, others that ask you to use the board and go sans slides- and use actual chalk, and some that don’t give you an idea of the format up front. If the place that you are visiting falls into this last category- feel free to politely ask the search committee chair prior to your visit if the search committee prefers a particular format. Who will be the audience for this? Continue reading

Unsolicited Advice: Job Search (Pt. 9)

There are three rules about choosing great investments in real estate (Location, 3x)… Similarly, there are three rules about prepping for giving a great talk….




You must practice public speaking in order to be good at it. A few people (and I mean VERY few), are gifted with public speaking and require less practice than the rest of us… but don’t go on a job interview assuming you are one of them. Continue reading

Dr. Ben Barres Presentation at Harvard…

A colleague sent me a link to (the webcast can be found if you scroll down to 3/17 to find the presentation/ you need realplayer to view this) this presentation given at Harvard last month by Ben Barres, a professor at Stanford University who is transgender and underwent a sex change from female to male 14 years ago. He has lived and worked first as a female scientist, and also as a male scientist. Following the irresponsible remarks of Harvard President Lawrence Summers in 2006 that there may be less women in science because women are innately less good at science, and Dr. Barres wrote a commentary in the journal Nature (‘Does Gender Matter?’), while the scientific establishment sat quietly on its hands. Dr. Barres has continued to work to open the eyes of the establishment to the depth of gender bias against women in science and propose innovative ways to counter discriminatory practices against women.

Last week there was a rather lengthy discussion over at Drug Monkey about biases against women in science, and about being ‘that guy’ who stands up and actually does something about this. Dr. Barres is ‘that guy’, I hope that the scientific establishment will be forced honestly look at the data- and make some serious adjustments- this can’t happen fast enough. But Dr. Barres also has a message for us women scientists too- we need to ASK for what we want and keep asking (child care support for example), we need to organize if necessary (and it is necessary), and we need to educate and enlist the help of our male colleagues in changing the culture of science. We need to provide the best example to our students, mentor and encourage to build self-confidence of our young scientists- this is especially important for young women. Doing this takes active effort- it doesn’t just ‘happen’ because we wish it to be so…

SuperDr.Mom’s Not A Super.

I had a crappy day yesterday. After being so proud of myself that I handled the previous 4 days well (3 soccer practices and 3 games, music lessons for all, school sing along, and trip to neighboring city to meet with collaborator, review paper, work on own paper, have lab meeting)- I took my daughter to a birthday party that’s not until NEXT weekend. Oh yeah- supermom’s got it ALL under control- what a goof!

There are many times like this when I feel unbalanced in career and home life, then I give myself a graphic demonstration that things really are spinning out of control. So we didn’t make any plans for the rest of the day or for Sunday… there was no other way of surviving. Bringing the schedule to a dead halt made time for us to discover a bunny living under the bushes in the front yard, the whole family went out to fly kites… and I felt a whole lot better.

John Prine was on Austin City Limits on PBS last night (I’m a big fan- and this was something I’d been hoping to see)… and after the restful afternoon and watching that… things are good.