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Scientiae Carnival: Transitions

The theme of this Scientiae Carnival is transitions — happy transitions, sad ones; transitions in education, life, and work.

At Proving Theorems estraven considers all of her major life transitions and determines that the biggest change was the first step of going to university.

At one end of the graduate education continuum, Propterdoc writes with joy about her transition to being a grad student: "Everyday I felt quite light headed with the notion that I was in the right place doing what I was supposed to do, becoming what I was supposed to be."

Flicka Mawa is working on a similar mental transition in her thoughtful post about learning from going through rough times as an undergraduate and being able to apply those lessons to deal more effectively with failing her qualifying exams.

At Amelie's Welt Amelie writes about how surprising many aspects of moving into a PhD program were. "When you come into a new environment, usually there are others who know what’s going on, who can show you (on purpose or not) how things work. You start kindergarden… I assumed it would be similar when I start my PhD…"

Also becoming who she's supposed to be, Yami from Green Gabbrowrites about Leaking From the Pipeline (Again). She talks about her decision to move from a PhD to a Master's program, what was behind it and how she feels about it. Her comment that "I am able to recognize misfits between myself and academia as value-neutral or as flaws in academia instead of feeling like I am broken," made us cheer out loud.

Galaxy girl has a different take on transitions. She writes about graduate school not as a single transition but as a state of transition where pretty much all of life's decisions from the small to the big are on hold, waiting for the PhD to be completed. For a future post, Galaxy girl says she will write on a really different type of transition—"maybe how transitions of iron allow a glimpse of the very heart of an active galactic nuclei." We can't wait to read that one!

On the other side of the doctoral divide, Tenure Track Newbie writes about that transition -- moving into her first tenure track job and sorting out how to negotiate the demanding waters of that position: "During my interview, the dean stressed excellence in teaching, excellence in service, and excellence in scholarship. Note to self: Replace “very good” with “excellent” in personal vocabulary." We were especially interested in her comments about students evaluating faculty more highly if they (the students) can associate a role or personality with the faculty member. Fascinating!

Skookumchick writes about surviving being in the middle of that graduate education continuum including getting her first faculty position, finishing and defending her dissertation, moving. Her advice to herself: "Calm down, skookumchick. Take a deep breath. Do one thing at a time. Maybe make a list. And think how much more relaxing it will be to consider all these changes from a Hawaiian beach, or on the parents' Coastal deck over their rocky beach, with Mr. Skookumchick, who will help you through all this." sure sounds good to us.

Sciencewoman considers different transitions – those with clear boundaries (teaching vs. not teaching) and those without (research!).

And out the other end of the tenure process, Kat on a Wire discusses getting tenure -- what it didn't mean to her and what doing a sabbatical did. We also enjoyed her tie-in to talking about "What Not to Wear."

Jenny F Scientist comments on the conflict between personal and professional, personal demands and systemic, structural issues. In her first post Not All Choices Were Created Equal, she does a really nice analysis of how power and policies effect our choices as women. Her conclusion is a powerful one: "We choose, but we cannot choose willingly, freely, if our alternatives are constrained by our gender." Her second post, Continued Disturbance About Motherhood, Price Of brings the more general argument home to academia and to her own life and dealing with the lack of compatibility for women faculty of children and academic success.

At Women in Science, Peggy shares remarks and observations from Melissa Franklin, and early female physicist on the s…l…o…w transition towards women being unquestioned members of the science professions. (Spoiler: We still have a way to go: “What hasn’t changed is the fact that many men think that women aren’t the smartest,” Franklin said. “It’s just a belief they hold without having thought about it much.”)

And Zuska writes a great post about the transition her blog has taken and how hard it can be always to be thinking about Gender Stuff. We are printing out the following paragraph from her post and putting it up on the wall here at FairerScience.org:

It's times like these that I think: thank you, sweet Jesus, for making me white and straight, for having me raised in a christian family. At least there are times of the day when my privilege makes me forget about racism and homophobia and religious discrimination, and a whole host of other isms I'm not even thinking of right now. Because sometimes I am just sick to death of thinking about gender, and I can't seem to unknow that perspective on the world anymore. I can still slip out of the others if I'm not careful, which, I must admit, is restful at times. That's what's so very, very cozy about privilege. It's not disturbing at all, if no one (including yourself) forces you to think about it.

And for the most painful transition of all; Science woman writes about the suicide of Elizabeth Sultzman and what it might mean. "I am left wondering whether the life she led was "worth it" while it lasted. I am left wondering whether there is something wrong with "the system" that puts so much pressure on individuals to constantly perform. I am left wondering about the expectations that we have for our selves - to succeed at so many endeavors simultaneously. I am left wondering about the extra burden we carry as women - primary caregivers facing an unequal playing field at work - and the chronic pressure that adds to our loads."

It shouldn't have to be this hard, so we're glad to have opportunities help each other through the hard times when they come along and celebrate the good stuff, too.


Holy moly. I'll be reading for days and days. Thanks for all the pointers.

Thanks for the great issue of Scientiae Carnival!

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