I’m struggling with how to contribute to carnivals on the topic of role models or important individuals in our lives, while still maintaining my pseudonymity. I work in a pretty narrow and specialized field of science, and maintaining anonymity on the web is very much in my best interest as a young, non-tenured female scientist. But I want to give credit to role models who have been very important to me, and I also want to contribute to carnivals. I’m not sure how to walk this line.
I suppose that this month, I will have to be satisfied with an anonymous tribute. I wil say that I have had one (and only one) female mentor in my career, and I am grateful to this day that I had the opportunity to work with her. While I talked the talk about diversity and really believed in it, having never had a woman mentor, I didn’t actually know what a difference it would make. I didn’t really think closely about the fact that I had only ever worked directly with men, that my undergraduate classes with female faculty had been few and on topics that weren’t of direct interest to me, and that in grad school, I was always the only woman in my committee meetings and usually one of at MOST two women in department seminars. I noticed those things and felt it was unjust, but I didn’t think about the personal impact they might be having on ME.
Then I visited a woman scientist and worked in her lab. It was like a magical breath of fresh air to work with a supervisor who, well, kind of gets it innately. Who looked a little more like me and had had a few more similar experiences to share than the men ever did. It reinspired me not to quit grad school after all, it got me over my burn-out and renewed all of my vigor for my degree, and it just gave me hope again, so that I could return to my all-male home world for another 3 years.
It makes a difference. There aren’t even really words to describe how big of one. I’ll just leave it at that.