Thursday, October 26, 2006

Where for art thou?

I'm still around. I've been lurking and reading the blogs lately but feeling quite lethargic about posting. I don't know why. Maybe it was in part the Mother and Aunt visit which ate up an entire week (but I did enjoy having them here). Maybe it's the endless preschool activities and doctor's appointments which are culminating in parties at my children's two preschool houses this week. Maybe it has been these excrutiating migraines I've been getting every time a front comes through. Last night the headache woke me up at 2:30am and I spent until 4am chewing Excedrin, hoping it would go away as I'm solo again with the kids and I need all my faculties to make it through the day. Probably it was more the several interactions and conversations I've had recently with my husband and colleagues which made me realize that deciding to do this "part time science" thing was in good part a mistake - at least for the science career. I know there's a blog in that one but I'm too emotionally tired to tackle it now.

I've been keeping track of some interesting events however. The first was that my Institute is creating an administrative position to deal with Women Faculty Programs. Yeah! The goal of the Associate Vice President position is to develop programs, networks and support systems to ensure that the talented women faculty hired have the support system in place to succeed. I put my hat in the ring for this position awhile back but didn't receive an interview. I'm not surprised. I would have been the "think outside the box" candidate. Still I'm excited to see what comes of this new initiative.

Second, my Institution has changed it's thinking on those 'tweener academic research positions we all call "Instructor". It's been painfully obvious, at least to me and other colleagues, that there are a great deal of PhDs awarded to people who will never, or actually don't want to, run their own labs. The American academic science system does not have a place for these individuals who want to remain in research. Usually scientists (and often women) are placed in the Instructor position with the idea that they will be suitable for promotion to Assistant Professor in 2-4 years. Up until now at my Institution, once you wre in the Instructor position for the allotted years, you were out unless you secured a promotion. I call this the second "brain drain". The first is the loss of trained women scientists who fail to navigate the "leaky" pipeline towards professorship. The second is the loss of the "tweener" scientists or "super postdocs" who have traditionally been frowned upon by administration but are viewed as incredibly valuable and productive lab members by the PIs. Suddenly at my Institute, the Instructor position has been changed to an open-ended position, with no time limits. I think this is a step in the right direction, as long as women who are placed in these Instructorships are given the opportunity to be promoted when they have the qualifications.

Third, I'm getting selfish in my old age. I spend a lot of time trying to make life easy for other people and making life safe, fun and happy for my kids. Hasn't left much time for, well, me. I had a great role model as a mother but I think she gave up too much. So I re-signed up at our local YMCA and yesterday, I filled out the information to hire a personal trainer. I'm not a group exercise person so I figure the only way to get myself back in something equivalent to reasonably healthy shape is to have a workout program designed for me. I am just waiting to be contacted by that trainer. My goals are not lofty. I just want some tone back, a little weight loss and some additional energy to keep from being the grouchy tired Mommy to my kids.

Right now the most amazing line of thunderstorms is passing by; the thunder and lightning are constant. The house is shaking as if a train is rolling right outside the front door. I don't think I'll every like this southwest weather.....I've just walked my 4 year old back to bed and I'm going there myself........

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