Surviving the Sexodus: call for essay titles closed!

…at least for now. We will keep you posted. There are a few things in the works over here.

What a powerful response. If, the day before we released the call, you had asked me how many people would write to us, I would have estimated 20. Maaaaybeee 25. How wrong was I?  We received dozens upon dozens of titles from you over ~10 days. We haven’t finished responding to your emails so we don’t have an accurate count of titles yet.  If you haven’t heard from us yet, I apologize. You will.

When Marie-Claire and I sat down to discuss this project over 2 years ago, we were persistently dogged by two concerns a) very few people or no one would want to talk about their challenges b) our call for supportive essays describing negative experiences in order to pass along the derived wisdom to another generation of women would be met with denial. “Science is hard for everyone. Complain less and get to work”, “this is how the weak are weeded out of the field” “I’ve never had a problem and women who do are not suited to the field”,  …and so on. We were deeply concerned that the primary response would be protests describing women who have faced  serious obstacles as exceptional…somehow not within the normal distribution of women in science and, therefore, not worth talking about.

While we did hear from one person who told us “science is hard”, every other comment we received, including those from people wanting clarification on the the project’s tone, was respectful and informative. Importantly, the hundred-ish women who contacted us with stories to share were overwhelming positive about the project. A hundred-ish women who wanted to talk about their negative experiences, and wanted to pass along advice and support to young scientists – how exciting is that??

The last 10 days has me thinking about our future in STEM. I’m sure if we left the call open, we’d get many more title proposals. Describing the negative to derive some good has struck some kind of collective nerve. The utter absence of “pull yourself up by your boot straps” narratives in these proposals relieves me of the messy business of excising such stories due to tone, but it also bring me relief for another reason entirely. We – I mean the grand-all-of-us-WE – care about this leaky pipeline in STEM. In stark contrast to period during which I was a trainee, a lot of us are willing to honestly and loudly talk about our experiences in order to help others. Importantly, as these we scale the obstacles we face on this career path, we are not pulling up the rope behind us.

…and that, right there, is just one of the many ways that you ladies rock.