Archive for the 'Uncategorized' category

Some mansplaining about #womeninscience

Feb 09 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

In my homecountry, only 16% of the full professors are female. Not surprisingly, the government's vision on science for the coming years came accompanied by an inspirational picture containing 100% male scientists. Sigh.
This Saturday I read in the paper that Hans Clevers, the president of the Dutch academy of science knows why this is:"When it comes to becoming a group leader, women step back". He continues to explain:"Mothers are still seen as selfish when they need to work full-time". Well, thanks a lot for mansplaining that, and for not doing a damn thing to change any of this.

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My year in numbers

I know, it's not even December, but everyone starts to do all those "best of 2014" lists already like nothing important ever happens in December. And, with Little Brother's birthday coming up next week, I find myself thinking about all the things that have happened this past year. So here's my past year in numbers:

0. The number of grants I got this year.

1. The number of awesome dream jobs I currently have*.

2. The number of continents I have lived on.

3. The number of jobs I have had this year (research associate in the US, post-doc in homecountry and then industry job).

6. The number of kilometers I live away from work, which is great (most days, when it's not raining) because we can bike to work each day. With kids in the cargo bike, that is.

8(ish). (cause I don't really remember and am too lazy to look it up). The amount of weeks it took to get our car from the US to the homecountry. During these 8 weeks our car changed from a small sized, very average-looking car to a large and unique car!

9. The amount of days we went on vacation this year (to somewhere in France and somewhere in the UK). Much for US standards, very little for EU standards. This might change next year.

50. The approximate liters of milk I have pumped at work this year for Little Brother.

Lots more numbers. I thought of when I was in my spinning class last week and I got the idea for this post. But it being a spinning class, I couldn't really write them down and so forgot most of them. Oh well.


* "Dream job?" one might ask... Sure, there are no unicorns walking around the company. I sometimes miss doing hands-on lab work. And it sucks when the higher-up people decide to cut the budget to one of the projects you really like to work on. But all in all, I feel pretty damn happy in this job. Let's just hope I don't jinx it by writing that here ūüėČ

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How the old boys club continues to exist

The other day it came to my attention that there was a faculty position in my homecountry. This is quite unique, because that doesn't happen that often here. Interestingly, the position was at a place that I know pretty well, with people that I know pretty well. The position asks for skills that I have and interests that I share. The position came to my attention by another way than from these people. My first reaction was annoyance that they hadn't emailed me directly, but of course I had just accepted my new industry job, so they probably thought I wasn't interested anyway*.
Next, I heard that this job was offered to a guy that I know, who then declined said job.
Next, I emailed the professor to ask for more details and a website so I could inform people I know who might also be interested. His response: "for now, we are not putting the vacancy online, but we are just emailing it to our friends in the field in order to fill the position."**
* in my dream world I would get a call from them, crying if I please wanted to come back and take this position because I am such an awesome scientist and academia won't progress without my contribution. I understand that this does not happen in reality.
** I don't know exactly whether this is legal or not here in the homecountry.

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Quitlit anthology

Aug 01 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

After I wrote my post about why I chose to leave academia, I fell into the rabbit hole when I started to read more of the #quitlit, as the genre is called, that is out there. I started to compile a list of links, until I discovered that there is already a huge list of links right here in a google document. But here are some interesting ones for your weekend-reading pleasure:

You should know why science will fail.

How I learned to stop worrying and quit my PhD.

What's in a name? ... outstanding, excellent, world-leading

The 'system' failed me. It should have failed me sooner.

And last but not least, a very insightful post by Melonie Fullick about why this is even such a big thing, to write blog posts about choosing a different job.

And now I'm going back to the lab for my last month in this post-doc job. It feels in a funny way almost like being an undergrad again: knowing exactly how much time you will spend in a lab and which experiments you will do on which days. Let's see how many cells I can record from in my last month as a post-doc!

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Another post-doc: yay or nay?

Jul 24 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

Yesterday, this question was asked on twitter (yes, I suck at embedding tweets here...):

From @starvingPhD

@GenomeDaddy (Another) postdoc: yay or nay? I guess that's basically where I'm at now.

My answer was that a second (or third perhaps) post-doc can be a good things. In my opinion, there are several reasons why you want to do another post-doc: the best reason I think is to learn another technique in order to be able to independently conduct the kind of research that you are interested in. Another reason for a second post-doc is to switch labs to somewhere better than where you were initially. And of course, doing another post-doc might be necessary, for example if your current lab doesn't have funding anymore, closes down, or when you're part of a two-body situation. Because I understand very well that doing another post-doc is always better than having no job at all. In that case, it is important to find a lab where you do not have to take a step back in autonomy, as I found that to be a very frustrating situation.

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"The important thing is to not overcommit to one path."

This is going to be a short post as I am writing it with Little Brother on my lap on my day at home (yes, part-time work in academia is a thing in the homecountry)*. I just typed "how to choose" in my search bar, and google sure knows me well because the first autofill was "how to choose a career" (or does this happen to everyone?). These days, inspired mostly by my very short contract here as a post-doc, and the prospect of being a post-doc for quite a while longer, I am thinking a lot about what I want. (short answer: I don't really know but there is a good alternative option that I am exploring). The first thing google found was this article titled "How to Pick a Career You Actually Like". It talks about how you need to switch jobs often to find the career that suits you best and that you will be great at. How different is that from what we learn in academia! It even says:

"The important thing is to not overcommit to one path. Graduate school, for example, is overcommiting because if you don't end up liking that field, you will have spent four years gaining entrance into the field. Taking on college debt is overcommitting because you are, effectively, saying you will ony take jobs that are relatively high paying in order to service the debt."

This is a weird thing in my opinion: what would the world look like if nobody would "overcommit" and nobody would go to college and/or grad school and change jobs every 2 years? But it does make me wonder how being in academia and keeping my eyes on that one ultimate job (being a university professor with my own lab doing science) has kept me from finding something else and more importantly: exploring what I would love to do (or am I doing what I love to do? - you might notice I am overanalyzing this A LOT the past couple weeks).

What about you? Do you feel like you have enough time as a grad student or post-doc to figure out what you want or are you so caught up in the race to get papers and grants and a job that you forget to think about if this is what you want? And if you are faculty: did you ever take the time to think about if this is what you want or if you want to change careers?

* Actually, I started typing this post and am finishing it now that BlueEyes and Little Brother are in bed.

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