Dr. Isis’ blogwas the first science blog I read when I was in grad school. I was always impressed by her upbeat way of writing about combining her life as a scientist with being a mom. She wrote it in a way that was both hilarious and sounded real. Today I asked on twitter why she hadn’t blogged in a couple weeks and that started a whole conversation about being a mom in academia. I storified the first part of that conversation here. (It was my first time storifying something so am not sure if I included everything that was said, but it gives you a good impression). I often wonder whether someday I will regret all the time and energy devoted to science and Dr. Isis said:”TBH, I suspect we’ll regret it.” Later, I asked her whether she was thinking of making major chances to her (academic) life and she answered:” I am thinking that I won’t be in academia 6-9 mos from now.” She added that science is not necessarily harder than other things, but that it is not rewarded equally. Also, she added “Let’s just be clear that I am in now way “failing.” I am just reevaluating what makes me happy.” And later: “Again, this is not about success. It’s about culture and reward/bullshit ratio”
To me, this was a shocking reality-check. Because if everyone’s favorite domestic and laboratory goddess reconsiders staying in academia then what does that mean for me? It feels a little like when I hear peers that published in better journals than me decide that science is not for them; it makes me feel that if they can’t do it, then neither can I. Do I work hard enough to ‘make it’ and more importantly: do I want to put in all this time and energy, especially now that the funding situation everywhere is so dire that we are competing for grants with a success rate of 10-15%? Or do I want to spend more of my time with BlueEyes (or in a job that asks less of my commitment)?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do appreciate everyone’s honesty in this conversation. I like hearing other people’s experiences, and I would LOVE if Dr. Isis would someday blog about the things that drove her to make the decision to stay in academia or choose something else. In the mean time, I’m thinking about my plan B, and whether this should someday upgrade to plan A.
Edit 2: here’s Dr. Isis’ response