Making a Life

Women faculty often describe how their STEM careers and personal lives intertwine and shape each other at all stages of their lives. Women’s decisions about and experiences with personal identity, motivation, family, and social support systems are some of the ways in which they “make a life” for themselves. Life-making for them is never ideal or pre-planned; instead, it is a dynamic process of seeking balance between the many interlocking components of their lives.

What is important to you in making a life and finding balance? In what ways do these women offer inspiration and wisdom as you seek to balance your own life?

When I first came here, there were no other females on the tenure track. I certainly didn’t feel much respect. I was also single, and excluded from any social gathering. I felt that maybe people felt very uncomfortable around me being single and female.

When I accepted the faculty position here, I did not understand the scrutiny and the ridiculous expectations of the tenure track years. I concluded that starting a family during the tenure track years and getting tenure was incompatible.  So I put it off until the year after I got tenure which meant putting it off until I was 32. I felt like the institution was having some sort of control over my life that I had never really agreed to give them.

It took maybe five years for people to start looking at me, like I exist in this department. That’s also around the time that I got married and suddenly we started getting invited to different places. I used to tell my husband that he was the one who gave me the key to the department.

It’s a difficult balance because you’re at work thinking about your kids and you’re home playing with your kids thinking about work.


Gendered Expectations | Finding a Professional Voice | Making a Life | Mentoring

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