A glimpse of a possible future
Today was crazy busy, but it was a day where I was fortunate to be mentoring almost all day, almost all women. Astounding!
Helped a grad student with a poster. This was fun because it was more about giving her a pep talk than anything else- but that's important stuff!
Helped another student with a computer problem. This was fun because I don't think of myself as a computer expert, by a long shot (see previous posts on learning LaTeX), so it's always nice to know I've come a long way.
Taught a postdoc how to use a piece of equipment. This was fun because I like teaching, and also interesting because I think I had the impression this person knew more than she did, from talking to her ahead of time, but she's a fast learner so I didn't have to spend a lot of time to catch her up to speed.
Advised another postdoc on how to proceed with her project. I mean, we sat down and looked at her data and gathered some reagents and discussed what experiments she needs to do next. This was my favorite, I think, because it was the most like actually having my own postdoc, even if she's not working on something that was my idea, I'm helping guide the project. She's really sharp, so she asks really good questions, and she works hard, and takes my advice. What more could you want? Oh yeah, and I think at this point I've done enough that I'll be an author on the paper. That would be pure gravy.
Advised a graduating student to apply to attend a meeting. I know enough about her work that I saw a specific meeting and knew which part of her work she should present there. This was fun because this student is one of those people, she has so much potential and works really hard, and I can see that my helping her is preventing her from experiencing the same kind of absolute neglect I experienced when I was at the same point in my career.
Then on my way out the door, I got 2 more science questions, both from women, both of which I was able to answer.
And, just to put a little more sugar on top, I'm already getting something back for all my charity. In exchange for helping them, I'm finding out about other people's research, making useful connections, and gaining access to reagents and equipment I wouldn't otherwise know about.
Sometimes, flaws in the system aside, and despite all the crap, it actually works. And I like the idea of a future where I'm equally likely to be working with all women- at least some days!- as all men.
We are coming up.
-- Ani Difranco