Monthly Archives: June 2014

Women and Science

One other thing which keeps Oceanographers busy, is meetings. These meetings are not always related to my field of study or projects. This week I want to tell you about one subject I have been involved in for 10 months now “Women in Science”. I choose this theme this week because I was in the Embassy of Spain in a ‘roundtable Women in Science’ organized by the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (http://www.sruk.org.uk/).
It began in this way; during August last year, I received an email from the Professional Development Unit saying that the head of Ocean and Earth Science had nominated me to take part on the programme “Women into Leadership and Management” which the university runs for women in Level 4 (postdoctoral, fellows, junior lectures…). I still have a hard time believing that the head of the school knows who I am or knows which level I am. However, personal assistants do a marvellous job, hahaha.
So, I said to myself “Why not? Let’s see what this is all about”. I communicated my decision to my partner and my dad and the first reaction I had, from both of them, was more or less “Oh no!! You don’t need more teaching about being bossy!!”
So, the programme turned out to be really interesting. We had a two day residential workshop where small groups were formed (I was part of the red team!!) and we explored leadership and team -worker styles (like summer camp activities but under the rain, to prove our resilience!!). We then had regular red team mentoring meetings with a nice female Professor, where we talked about career paths, networking, elevator speech… We networked with other women at the same level from other areas. We had a lot of courses and workshops, like “Face the fear” or “Influence and Persuasion”. We recently had our Belbin test results (http://www.belbin.com/) where it turns out I am seen by my closer colleague and by myself as a team-worker, implementer and specialist but not as a really creative person.
During this process I was amazed to realize that even today, there is still a great difference between the small number of women compared to men in positions of leadership. An unconscious bias exists and works against the women in academia. Women need to be at least 2.5 times better to get the same job. Motherhood is deemed to be a problem, but works the other way for fatherhood and is an extra-point to father’s CV. We have to learn to say “NO” to tasks we don’t want to do. We need to self-promoted themselves more. And, after all, being bossy is not at all a bad thing!!
I want to end by saying that the ‘roundtable’ at the Embassy was really productive with great speakers and interesting questions,only comparable in quality with the Spanish ham which was served in the reception that followed.

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INTERVIEW AND LITTLE BOXES

Those of us who have no permanent job in science, when our contract is close to an end (that means more or less a year) it is time to start applying for a new job.

Normally, how it works is as follows: You see an advertisement of a position on offer. Normally they ask for your curriculum vitae, a cover letter, the list of publications and the name of referees. You put them all together (at first, this is a lot of work, but then it is only a matter of adapting them according to the job description), you send the completed application and wait.

Suddenly you receive an email: you don’t need to read it all, you fast scan to find either “unfortunately” or “we’re happy to…” If “unfortunately” appears, I just put a “X” in front of the folder name where I save the rejection documents. If the happiness appears in the response email, I find the folder to remind myself what the job was about; what did I put in my application? (and sometimes, google-map where in the World is this city?) You should by now know that I love maps!! Then I prepare for the interview. Interviews can be in person, by phone or videoconference. This week I had one job interview for a job in Wilhelmshaven (it is your time to google it now, hahahaha).

One advantage of having being in a distance-relationship for a while is that you spend so much time talking in front of the computer that you end up being as natural as in real life (as my mum said: “what a hell are you doing laughing in front of this machine”). The science interviews have standard interview questions: what are your strengths; where do you see yourself in five years… And science questions: what is the most important result in your last publication (yeah! At least one person has read it!!). They finish with the typical: “we will get back to you”

And they come back to me, and offer the job!!

Then starts a storm in my brain, first check: how are flights from the new job to home in Ibiza? I again remember my mum, when I was deciding where to do my PhD, saying “you go where you want but try to keep less than two flights and less than half day of travel” Check one, not too bad, as travel is always better summer than winter. Check two, how is housing there? Check three, how much will I earn? Check four, when should I start? It never coincides with the end our your actual contract. Check five; check six… Oh my gosh!!! Moving again, boxes and more boxes (fortunately, there has not being too long since we last moved and our studio is too small to accumulate a lot of things).

I have yet to decide, I need to think, ask my pillow, ask my family, go to swim, go to run… we’ll see . . .

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