Every day, it seems, brings another prominent man accused of sexual harassment. The diversity of the men who have been recently revealed as sexual predators is disconcerting. Some of them even cultivated a "good guy" persona and publicly championed women's causes.
One example of this might be Harvey Weinstein, a man whom some argue, had made it possible for several female actresses to get important leading roles in big movies. By some opinions, he had promoted women in the film industry, yet, he also used his power to abuse women.
Now we hear about other "good guys" who also abused and harassed their female colleagues. One such "good guy" is Al Franken. The photo of Senator Franken groping a sleeping colleague is so disturbing that it is hard to believe that this IS the same guy who supported "women's" issues such as the Family Coverage Act.
If it is hard for us in the general public to reconcile those two sides of these good guys, then just imagine what it must feel to be a professional woman working with these men.
Today is Independence Day.
in·de·pend·enceˌ indəpendəns/ noun synonyms:
self-government, self-rule, home rule, separation, self determination, sovereignty, autonomy, freedom, liberty.
This definition of the word 'independence' feels personal, more personal than the US holiday can celebrate with its barbecues and fireworks. It is about being who we want to be as a people and as individuals.
For many people, especially women, being who we want to be can require a revolution, as significant and bloody as any war. Independence is scary. It is costly, and it leaves casualties, even some from friendly fire. You have to pay, one way or another, for your independence.
Being whom we want to be requires first finding out what we want to be, a painfully long process for many. My own process took a while and did not follow a straight line, but eventually, I became a doctor/scientist. How can I best guide my female students and my daughter in this process?
With the summer break just around the corner, I imagine that many of you are also starting to think about how to best utilize this opportunity to do something productive and beneficial to your academic and professional career. Internship, as you know, is one of the most popular summer activities that students take on to hone on their skills, learn from professionals, and even receive mentorship. Whether you have already secured a great internship or you’re still looking for one, let’s take a moment and think about how to become a successful intern, so that you can get the most of out of your experience. After all, landing an internship is just a beginning, and it is up to you to make it a productive experience. So what are some of the key components to a successful internship?
Six Key Attitudes for Success Your Global Health Research Experiences- Presentation at the Unite for Sight Conference, Yale University 2017
I had the honor of presenting last week at the 14th Annual Global Health & Innovation Conference organized by Unite for Sight. The Global Health & Innovation Conference (#GHIC) is the world's leading and largest global health conference as well as the largest social entrepreneurship conference, with 2,200 professionals and students from all 50 states and more than 55 countries. This conference convenes leaders, changemakers, and participants from all sectors of global health, international development, and social entrepreneurship.
So, the male candidate for president is caught on tape making sexually vile comments about women. He dismisses the episode as "locker room talk". This response implies that this is the sort of language that you can expect when a couple of guys are comfortably talking to each other while wearing nothing but towels around their waists after a friendly football game.
Well, I don't know if that is what happens in a locker room. I've never been in one. But I do know one thing, I have heard this sort of talk in other places: at work, at a restaurant, at a conference... Just a few examples:
I'm going to a conference in a few weeks together with some of my postdocs and students. Most of us have been asked by conference organizers to present our works in poster form. But one "unlucky" soul was asked to do an oral presentation. She is terrified and considering not going to the conference, even though it is in beautiful Rome! Who would give up a trip to Rome? I tell you who would! Someone for whom 10 minutes of public speaking feel as pleasant as two hours of tooth drilling at the dentist's office.
Well, I can certainly identify with my student's feelings, as I used to be terrified of public speaking too. Once, just before I was to be introduced for one of the most important presentations that I have ever given, my friend had to come find me hiding in the ladies room. Her pep talk for me was: "you know more about this than anyone else in the room". This clicked with me. I straightened myself up, splashed water on my face and gave a killer presentation. Thanks, Karen!
As academic professors, we aim to train people in our fields. We have good intentions, but we make one key mistake: we try to create our trainees in our image, for them to be the younger copies of ourselves. Our job is to train students to follow in our footsteps, even when this may not be the best choice for them.
We help students to get their PhDs, then land postdoctoral positions in the hopes of having them eventually get academic faculty appointments -ideally, a tenure-track one. We create an army of Mini-Me’s ready to continue the same scientific quests that we have been working on, and so we perpetuate the circle of life in academia.
Are we setting trainees up for failure? For many new research scientists, the academic career path becomes a series of dead-end postdoctoral positions with little prospects for their own independent academic careers. According to a recent New York Times article, we are training many more research scientist than there are faculty positions. So why are we doing this?
US Doctoral Students May Find that Their Dissertation Committee can Double as a Board of Career Mentors - Nature Jobs Feature, May 2016
I was featured in Nature, vol 533: 429-430, May, 2016 by Alaina Levine. The article is about how you can better utilize your dissertation committee by doing the following : 1) choose a diverse group of committee members who can provide you guidance in different aspects of your thesis research and also advise you on your career goals, 2) communicate individually with each adviser early and often, 3) be honest with your committee members about your career goals, 4) keep committee members informed of your achievements and challenges, 5) realize that you are an asset to your advisers and not a drain or a burden to them. To this last point, I want to add that you should understand that your advisers want you to succeed. They accepted to be on your committee for altruistic reasons and they genuinely want you to do well. But you should also understand that their success as mentors is measured by the level of success that their students achieve. In the article, I am quoted as saying: "Students should remind faculty members whom they invite to serve on their dissertation committee that they are likely to benefit. “One measure of success for professors is the success of their students,” says Dr. Luz Claudio. “When you are up for promotion and tenure, the better your students do, the better you look.” Read the full article here.
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Dr. Luz Claudio is an environmental health scientist, mother and consultant, originally from Puerto Rico. She is a tenured professor of environmental medicine and public health. Luz recently published her first book: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide. Dr. Claudio has internship programs and resources for young scientists. Opinions expressed in this blog are solely her own and may not reflect her employer's views.