I started this blog and made my first post on March 6, 2008 – so today is my 1 year blogiversary (well, er… actually it’s tomorrow morning, but, what the hell, I’m celebrating a little early)!!
Perhaps you are wondering, what with all I have to do already, what possessed me to start this little diversion? The summer of 2007 I attended a scientific meeting, at the behest of one of my staunchest allies. At this meeting the organizers set-up a session on Women in Science/Careerism type issues that was well attended. I went- of course- and ended up doing quite a lot of talking (something I’m never short on… hence BLOG)… about the job search, two-career academic couple issues and the like. I had recently been through the whole 9 yards myself and the experiences were fresh.
After that session I remember feeling like there was something basic missing in the training of many academic scientists- they just don’t learn and are never taught science ‘careerism’ or how the academic system works. That fall I coached three post-docs that I knew on getting faculty jobs- and all three went out and successfully competed for academic positions (I’m sure they would have done fine w/o my help though). I thought about finding a place to write everything down for my trainees and friends that would ask me for help. I don’t think the way the ‘system’ works needs to be a mystery to anyone who is interested in competing in it successfully.
Second- I didn’t know any academic women scientists who had little kids pre-tenure (actually, that’s a lie, I knew a single one way back in my training). I longed for someone to talk to about this experience- Mom’s and Dad’s alike- about the difficulties of the continuous balancing act- about being able to find reward in both. I thought that maybe if I could share my own experiences I- I would find others in the same tight spot- and we would all feel a little less isolated.
Anyway, these thoughts rolled around in my head for months- but I didn’t really know what or how little ol’ me could contribute something that might help others in similar situations understand the academic system, see the complexity of two career academic family life for what it really is, then make a choice and feel supported if academia was not their answer. Although I kept a blog about my family for a couple of years prior to this- at that time I was completely unaware that there was a bigger science blogging community. On my family blog I had some references to my academic work life and career- and I noticed that Bora started visiting my blog (which was NOT highly trafficked so it was pretty obvious). I followed the link back to his blog… started reading… and typed the words ‘women in science’ into google… and I saw the LIGHT. Blue Lab Coats was born that very day.
I didn’t know if anyone would read it- and honestly- at the time- I didn’t really care. I had a place to write down everything that I’d been teaching postdoc friends about academia etc, that I could refer people too if they asked me for advice, and if a few unknown but interested parties stumbled upon it, that was ok by me as well. I can’t remember who found me first, Juniorprof, Comrade Physioprof, Drugmonkey, or Abel Pharmboy– or Bora (of course)- I’d be remiss to name one since I can’t really remember…. I’ve so enjoyed reading their blogs as well as many many others- and all of those listed on my blogroll (which isn’t very up to date- so if you are missing- give me a shout out and I’ll add you!!)… (and Mad Hatter...where are ya??)
I didn’t expect what came next. Who knew that this blog would grow to over 11,000 pageviews per month? I wasn’t anticipating what a talkative bunch you all are- the awesome discussions we would have, the moral support we would offer each other, the teaching- the occasional virtual yelling. The schooling in creative and incredibly dirty vocabulary that would be offered up by Comrade Physioprof.
I enjoy it all. I always learn from you people- and I hope that this works both ways!