June Scientiae - Added Weight: Taking Up Space

UPDATE: I missed one entry because it got caught in my spam filter. JaneB at Now, What Was I Doing? muses on how traditional success criteria lead to uneven weight distributions:

The lesson I'm trying to learn this year and next is that when I try to 'play the game' using externally set values for the things I do and am, I will be off balance - the weights of the different parts of my life will be wrongly distributed. It is up to me to recognise the true weight of things, and to distribute them appropriately for efficient and enjoyable carrying.

This is a really excellent entry, do go read it.


It was a pleasure reading all the contributions to this month's Scientiae - one of the perks of hosting, spending time contemplating a batch of fab writing by women in science. And judging by your contributions, you really are a very fab bunch. I cannot believe how much you all manage to do with only 24 hours in each day. Just knowing you are all out there, each doing your part to change the face of science (literally and figuratively), makes Zuska a happy lady.

But without further ado, let's get on to the carnival!

I asked you all how you take up space in the world, what added weight you'd like to have in your lives, how you want to counter the forces that tell women to be "small, small creatures of little physical or mental substance". Your answers came in several kinds.

Time - that precious commodity! Janet at Adventures in Ethics and Science, makes note of the guilt women feel about the spill-over of work into home life.

It has felt like a failure on my part that my career has taken up space that rightly belonged to my family. It has felt like, if only I were more efficient (or could get by on less sleep), I would be able to police the boundaries between work and life better.

She resolves to do a lot less policing in the coming year, to actually integrate career and home life.

Rebecca at Adventures in Applied Math notes how much harder it is for her to take up space in the fourth dimension than it is in x-y-z space. She realizes she actually needs to take up more of other peoples' time. Acmegirl, meanwhile, is relishing the expanded time available to her now that the distance relationship gig is over. Frankly, Zuska understands not at all how Acmegirl managed to survive those four years of separation. Acmegirl rules. Seriously. As does Julie R at My (Not So) Abundant Spare Time. Twins - twins! - and somehow she finished grad school, too. But in gaining the babies she had to shed a lot of the weight of her past life. But now, "I feel like I can really start putting some effort into combining my old life with my new life."

Of course, some of you were concerned with taking up more resources - physical space and/or equipment. Brigindo at Dirt and Rocks has scored the perfect power office and refuses to relinquish it. No windowless room for her! Zuska is pleased to see no less than three of you claiming your right to take up large chunks of money for your New/Big Fancy Pieces of Equipment and the Expensive Accessory, doojab, or Accessory you need to go along with it. Congratulations to Amanda, Sciencewoman, and Dr. RMS on having the moxie to ask for the big bucks! Sciencewoman rightly notes:

Administrators may want me to succeed in a vague, general sort of way, but they aren't really going to look out for me unless I make my case loudly and clearly.

All you other women scientists, go forth and be inspired by their tales to speak up and ask for the $$$$$!

Some of you decided that, dammit, you want to be noticed! Lab Cat is wearing bright colors again and frankly, dear, I don't give a damn who you crowd out of the picture. You deserve to be in the center. Stepwise Girl at Candidate Models blames her drop in motivation on letting herself get too thin in the eyes of her department this past year. She lays out a plan for adding weight to her presence. Meanwhile, Academic ponders the transition to adulthood and longs for the gravitas of real adult status. Jane has no fear of lobbying for a bigger role on campus and communicating directly - but somehow at home, she's having more trouble taking up space for her own needs. Kylie at Podblack Blog spent several years making herself visibly qualified for Something New, only to have it vanish before her preparation was complete. Yet:

I realised that the board was bigger than what the pawn could originally see and that I could even leave it altogether.

We saw above that Amanda of A Lady Scientist scored the big equipment and accessory she needed. She did so in part by "...losing my long taught shuffling-eyes-down-if-it's-not-too-much-trouble demeanor." She and Jenny F. Scientist should celebrate together; Jenny has "overcome my Southern, female training to be unobtrusive and polite...I finally expect to be heard."

Living in a foreign country can bring on some problems of lightweightness. Hypoglycemia Girl bemoans the limited language skills that hamper lab communication and prevent her from telling obnoxious drunk dudes to bugger off in proper French. Wayward Elf feels confined by Swiss mores of dress and body carriage, and is frustrated by lack of a good solution for the experience of invisibility at meetings. If you have some good strategies to share, go on over and let her know.

Research! Research! Research! Let us now praise the claiming of our research goals and products. Kim at All My Faults Are Stress-Related celebrates the completion of a research paper from seven years and another job ago. Am I A Woman Scientist? gives a barbaric YAWP, proclaiming "...my added weight will be to throw myself full-force at my research issues" as she embarks on the tenure track. Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde networked her way into a conference presentation and congratulates herself on making the move to the postdoc position that is stretching her abilities. Zuska would like to take this moment to ask ALL grad students, postdocs and yes, even you faculty, to make note of this fine example of networking. You must all vow to yourselves to behave in a similar fashion as the opportunities present themselves.

Finally, Barn Owl notes wryly that it is, indeed, possible to knit AND pay attention to the science at the same time! She speaks eloquently - and with fabulous photos - of the need for a creative community as part of the scientific life. She vows to take on the added weight of developing and nurturing creativity in her own community.

Let the needlework-challenged critics freeze in the dark, sans embellishment or warm fuzzy sweaters.

Amen. Thanks for reading, everyone.

If your submission is not included here, please email me at bobtownsuz AT yahoo DOT com. Many emails were going into my spam folder and I hope I caught them all. Do let me know, here in the comments or by email, about broken links or other errors.

Finally, if you want a heads-up on next month's carnival topic, here's the scoop from Kylie at Podblack who's hosting next month:

"A voice in the crowd" - are you heard? How are you heard? Are you one of a team that works as a choir or does discordance rule the roost?
If you're singing solo in the shower, can you be idolised for your Idol-qualities or not care if you're called tone-deaf - as long as you're enjoying your song?
There's many ways that we can let ourselves be heard but who really has control of the megaphone? And who carries the tune after you've stopped? Feel free to work with the theme or ignore it altogether, as long as we're listening front and center for your brilliant aria or sad swan-song on a Scientiae subject.

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By hypoglycemiagirl (not verified) on 08 Jun 2008 #permalink