At the Science Blogging Conference, Bora urged us to visit the conference wiki and “click on the logos of our donors to show them interest in their sites”. Because it was Bora who asked me to do so, and because I want our donors to come back next year and support us in this endeavor again, I obediently went to the conference wiki and started clicking on donor logos.
Eleven years ago, Tomeiko Ashford told us, “I really would like to teach on the college level, to become a professor.” (See Endeavors, Fall 1995, “Working Their Way into Place.”) Now she’s the associate director at Carolina’s Institute of African American Research, and she’s just one of many who achieved their goals with the help of minority programs on campus. And though the names and acronyms of the individual programs seem to evolve and change almost daily, their aim remains the same: the promotion and advancement of minority scholarship.
It’s a nice short piece with links to several other articles and descriptions of the programs mentioned in the piece. There’s also a wonderful profile of scientist Valerie Ashby. Ashby, who works on bioelastomers, went through one of the programs profiled in the “Cultivating New Scientists” article. On the importance of mentoring:
Joe DeSimone, professor of chemistry, was one of Ashby’s mentors. He asked her what she wanted to do. Not in the next five minutes. Not in the next five years. But what did she actually want to do? With her life? No one had ever asked her before. “I didn’t even care what he did,” she says. “He immediately bought into me.” Now, Ashby says that most of what she’s accomplished depended on the enthusiasm and encouragement she got from her mentors.
It’s really wonderful when we can find mentors who are just like us, mentors who can show us how to be women in the very male world of science, or how to survive as a minority in a majority culture. But just by sheer numbers, that’s not always going to be available for most of us. So it’s even more wonderful, in a way, when someone who is not just like us steps up to do the mentoring.
At important steps along my pathway, there were white men who were well established in their careers who looked at me and didn’t just see “woman”, didn’t just dismiss me, as so many others did. They saw a potential engineer in me, and they mentored me. They treated me like a person with a future. That’s the most wonderful kind of mentoring you can get.
Well, thanks, Bora, for pushing me to go visit the conference sponsors’ websites. What started out as a obligation or duty for me ended in delightful exploration. That says to me that you did a nifty job of rounding up a good set of sponsors for a science blogging conference!
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