If I think about the path my life had taken, I should be really proud of what I have accomplished, and very, very grateful to the women’s movement for the opportunities I have almost taken for granted.
I decided in high school I enjoyed science enough to study it in college. I also decided I liked the idea of financial independence and the science field paid well. I was accepted at a few universities, including a fancy pants private university (which I ended up turning down for personal reasons).
After college, I worked in 3 different sub-fields of biotechnology – microbiology, forensics and medical genetics, and I really owe a debt of gratitude to the women who worked tirelessly and courageously to pave the way for women like me to achieve great things in their lives.
If you are interested in learning more, The History Channel.com has a whole array of topics on Women’s History Month. You ought to check them out with your daughters.
True, I stay at home at this point in my life, and if I had to do it all again, I still would leave the workforce to be at home with my daughters. But before I did so, I worked for 12 years in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) field, an area most often associated with men, but not all STEM careers are male dominated. For example:
From iSeek Careers article on Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
- Database administrators are 37 percent women.
- Biological scientists are 46 percent women.
- Accountants and auditors are 60 percent women.
- Clinical laboratory technologists are 78 percent women.
- Registered nurses are 91 percent women.
From my own experience in the three biotechnology laboratory settings I worked in, the laboratories were predominantly women. At the microbiology laboratory I worked in, the laboratory supervisors were female. The laboratory director was male. In the crime laboratory I worked in, we had two female supervisors and the department head was female. In the medical genetics laboratory I worked in as a supervisor, I was a female and my laboratory director (who was also principal investigator for the research laboratory) was a female too. In all three jobs, the highest level positions were still held by men, but, I didn’t mind. They still had a great deal of respect for the women in lower level management positions, and honestly, I know the women were where they wanted to be – close to the bench and not in some far remote position.
I never experienced a sense of limits on what I wanted to do because I was a woman. In fact, I was pleased to be contacted by my first laboratory’s Quality Assurance Manager at the corporate headquarters to work for them as a QA Assistant for their 10 national laboratories. Though, soon it was pretty clear that my heart lay in the laboratory, not knee-deep in SOP writing, document control and statistical number crunching. Thankfully though, the 15 month application, interview, and lie detector test process for the crime lab was complete and I only had to spend six months swimming in paperwork before I got back to the bench.
I’d like to have a few other articles this month regarding women in science, balancing career and family (or not), host that book giveaway I’d been talking about (but had not forgotten) and I’d really wish I could talk to Mayim Bialik. Who’s she? Ms. Bialik is the former Blossom star and regular guest on The Big Bang Theory who is not only an attachment parenting mother of two and author of the book Beyond the Sling: A Real Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way (which, by the way, totally rocks, given my feelings on attachment parenting) she is also the holder of a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and wrote her dissertation on “Hypothalamic Regulation in Relation to Maladaptive, Obsessive-Compulsive, Affiliative, and Satiety Behaviors in Prader-Willi Syndrome”. Have I ever mentioned one of my dreams is to get my Ph.D. in neuroscience (and fear it’s much, much too late)? As I understand it, Bialik doesn’t plan any other further work in acadamia (but plays neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory) and I wonder why.
And, what’s more…little does anyone know, one of the genetic tests I ran in my laboratory was the methylation PCR test to screen for Prader-Willi and the DNA analysis of Chromosome 15 to confirm it. Yeah, small freakin’ world.
Anyway, keep an eye out for more posts. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I do post again.