Last Friday three Motherhood contributors participated in a panel along with several Cornell University faculty and discussed among other things, the many different ways in which women combine motherhood with science. Topics included how institutions like academia can do better and how women can take the initiative – like ASKing for what they want (a topic covered by a few authors in Motherhood) – and making themselves familiar with the realm of realistic possibilities, and when necessary, how important it is to stand up for your rights.
Another topic that came up (OK I might have brought it up – since I was so close to the “soap-box” ) was alternative careers. As many of us know, some who have chosen alternatives, even full-time research alternatives sometimes feel we “don’t get no respect.” One goal of this project is to raise awareness of the importance of spreading our science around – particularly outside of academia.
So when I finally got around to reading the April 18th volume of Science this week – I was heartened to read Bruce Alberts’ editorial, New Career Paths for Scientists which followed his previous editorial Hybrid Vigor in Science.
Writes Alberts (referring to former AAAS and NAS Fellows)
“The several thousand past participants ….are engaged in various pursuits. Many are research scientists, but others have entered careers in policy, scienc education, journalism, and environmental protection, among others…Scientists in such non-traditional careers are invaluable as two-way interpreters: people who can readily bring the benefits of scientific analysis to their institution or professsion, as well as help traditional scientists better understand how their science might contribute in new ways.”
And, “….the formation of strong, long-lasting synergies between academic science and other critical institutions will require that some of our best students of science leave academia to become curriculum specialists inside school districts, policy analysts in state government offices and so on. These people will form bridges needed for science to affect a wider society. We should therefore be generating new programs to support such career transitions, while cheering on the scientists who pursue them.”
Couldn’t agree more.