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October (8)

For the math nerd in you.
Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

On-line therapy
Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Moving towards generosity.
Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Longest Revision process ever?
Friday, October 14, 2011

Okay enough of the bitching and complaining. More importantly...
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Donor's Choose!
Saturday, October 8, 2011

Update on #madwriting
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
September (7)

What's the use of Dropbox?
Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's the buddhist in me.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Homeward Bound
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cell division
Friday, September 9, 2011

A giant leap backward
Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011
August (6)

This is wicked.
Friday, August 26, 2011

What will happen to Canada's opposition?
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

How people in science see each other.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dork moments brought to you by Girlpostdoc
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Another one bites the dust.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
July (8)

Decisions, decisions...
Saturday, July 30, 2011

So what are you going to do with that?
Friday, July 29, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

more travelling...
Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

If you're a working-class American who still votes Republican ... you're stupid (Bill Maher)
Friday, July 15, 2011

Do academics have charisma?
Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy long weekend.
Friday, July 1, 2011
June (5)

Love this.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not our proudest moment. But damn makes for a good laugh.
Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mansplaining without the man.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Twitter sucks.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I loved this video
Friday, June 10, 2011
May (4)April (5)

Because IT'S FRIDAY!!!!
Friday, April 29, 2011

Because it's not quite Friday.
Thursday, April 28, 2011

Staggering, but frankly not surprising.
Friday, April 22, 2011

Hinterland of Canadian science.
Friday, April 15, 2011

New Digs
Friday, April 15, 2011
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I can't promise to be PG13. In fact I promise not to be PG13.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

These past few days, I've had a chance to hang out with my sisters Fortune and Wisdom.  Fortune recently got a new job and Wisdom had just returned from travels of her own in far far away lands.   We had an amazing home-cooked Indian dinner, cooked by Wisdom, and then the three of us just sat around in her family room talking over tea, just being family.  Our relationship has evolved over the years in ways that I could not have imagined.  There were times when Fortune and I didn't talk for what seemed like years,now our relationship is like Summertime, a Mary Cassatt painting, the women don't always look directly at each other, but their shared experience brings a sweetness into the moment.  Wisdom and I on the other hand, are very close. With her, there is an ease to the relationship.  I feel like Wisdom is a warm blanket, a cup of cocoa, and an engaging book on a cold night.  But its the combination of both of them that is calming and invigorating, like it reminds you of the things that are important.  You know, priorities.  On that note, here is a post from May 11 2010.

Those of you who have been following this blog, know of the troubles that HippieHusband and I have experienced.  And that the blogs I write carry a tone that oscillates between a little bit of bitch and a little bit of buddhist.  I'm guessing that the more fun posts to read are the bitchy ones.  I imagine, however, that all of us oscillate between these two personalities and the trick is finding the balance.

Lately, HippieHusband and I have started the process of looking for jobs elsewhere.  But not just academia, we're opening ourselves up to everything.  The process I started of finding out about post-academic careers was largely motivated by the distaste that SmallUniversity left in my mouth.  It has since become less intransigent and more progressive or forward looking, more about the potential of a career in industry science and how cool it would be to work there.  This has largely come from two things: 

a.) the 5-6 informational interviews (some by telephone some via email) I have conducted and the 4-5 that HippieHusband has done over the last month and a half.

b.) This book I read, called "So what are you going to do with that?" by Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius.  A brilliant book, a must read for everyone, even if you're not considering a post-academic career. They provide strategies that help you decide if academia is for you and if it isn't how to market yourself to a variety of employers if you choose to leave.  In addition, they share stories from people who transitioned into a multitude of careers outside academia.  It is insightful, funny, inspiring and practical.

The scientists that HippieHusband and I talked with personally worked in vastly different areas including: drug discovery, biofuel research, agricultural biotech, and consulting.   I talked with two women who were at very different levels - one a VP of Research and Development of a drug discovery company and the other a Lead Research Scientist at an Agbiotech company.  Before talking with these women, I started reading about the science done at some of these places and frankly, I was stunned.  The research was innovative, brilliant and fucking cool.  A lot of science was basic research not just applications research.

In all cases, these scientists said that they were way less stressed out, felt truly valued, had time on the weekends and evenings, participated in a more team oriented science (because you are working toward a common goal as opposed, I suppose to self-aggrandizement), had sufficient freedom to design and lead research that was interesting, and that they were never bored. Many explained that the most challenging thing about transitioning from academia into industry was the reaction they got from their academic peers and supervisor.  The second biggest obstacle was what lay in their own heads.  As one scientist is quoted as saying in So what are you,

"Graduate students experience path failure when they assume that the same things that made them succesful up to this point will continue to do so when the time finally comes to find an academic position.  Discovering that there are no tenure-track job openings in their field or that employers outside academia do not value their academic credential comes as a painful shock."

"Almost all the people in a given Ph.D. program have passed up other opportunities outside academia.  It is transparently clear that their friends and acquaintances who have not made the choice to enter a Ph.D. program are reaping more material and, in many cases, psychological rewards than those who have chosen the Ivory Tower path.  It is one thing to have delayed gratification if one ends up in the desired position in academia, but to have to go back out into the same job market that most graduate students shunned five or even ten years ago is likely to be a psychologically wrenching moment."

Yes, yes it is.  In part because I was like many of my academic peers, a snob about industry science.  But also because academia builds its own mythology of failure and prejudice around potentially fulfilling careers in business, government, etc.  A simple example demonstrates this.  I remember talking to one friend (now a prof) during my PhD about how I was quite worried about my competitive abilities to make it to a t-t job.  The response, "Oh don't worry you could just find a biotech company or something and go do marker work with them."

This statement belies that mass delusion and disapproval that pervades the academic halls.  My response to it also carried the same distaste but in addition had an implicit fear of failure.  I was angry because she had unjustly labeled my science as not up to "academic standards." But really, given the crap I have to wade through in journal after journal just to find good science, and if I knew the high level science that industry did, I would have been able to see that as a compliment.

The future, I think, looks bright and exciting.

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Guest Comment

Your timing couldn't be more impeccable. I am a senior PhD student. I worked in industry before coming back to graduate school because the PhD was on my bucket list. I was asked by my advisor this week whether I had started looking for a postdoc, but after four years of being beaten over the head on a daily basis there is a part of me that wants nothing to do with the Ivory Tower and wants to go back to the good life I had with my spouse before the PhD. There is also a part of me that can't bear to leave, because I feel like all the women leave in our field. Less than 15% TT faculty in my field is embarassing.

While I know that there is no magic answer that is right for everyone, I am glad to know I am not wading through this thought process alone.

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You are most definitely not alone.  I have three female postdocs friends, who have decided to leave academia -  they too feel terrible - but really is their/our job to sacrifice a work-life balance just to increase female representation?

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Exactly, I plan on my PhD then out of acedemia and my colleagues really look down on me for it, but I think thats where I can make more difference in the world and still have some life... but thats just me


Guest Comment

Dear Canadian Girl Postdoc,

thanks for this post. After doing an internship in academia this summer, I was beginning to despair about choosing to go into the sciences instead of some more professionally oriented career. Everywhere the only talk I heard was publicaton this, journal that, authorship, getting higher in the ranks etc. And where had all the joy and fun of expanding one's knowledge and doing science for the fun of it gone?

I had my doubts about working in industry labs, but this post has certainly dispelled them. I am not looking to make myself famous with gazillion publication if it means that I have to publish work that is not truly meaningful. I want to collaborate and make cool stuff that will become meaningful either to the field or to people.


Love your blog, by the way.

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@Alchemytress Good for you!



Thanks!  Good to hear that what I write is helpful.  One of the best ways to learn about industry science is to talk to the scientists directly.  Often because data and methodology is proprietary talks by industry scientists can seem uninteresting, sparse and superficial.  I think because of that it hasn't had the same type of PR that academic science has had.

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