ASM members have expressed a significant interest in being able to gain career advice from microbiologists who have “been there and done that” and ASM has responded with an article on what advice they would give to their younger selves.
How does a young woman best survive and thrive in the sciences? In a field that some still see as a man's territory, what advice would you give to a female scientist?
As a woman, mid-career environmental microbiologist with a Ph.D. working in the chemical industry, I am fortunate to work with a group of excellent women engineers, geologists, chemists, and biologists. As women in STEM careers we are in the minority (for now). However, being of the minority gender for much of my career does not mean that it’s been a grim, lonely slog over the last twenty five years. The vast majority of men I’ve worked with have been positive forces in my daily life as valued friends and mentors.
Having written that, I began to wonder, is my experience the norm? Is it specific to the field I’m in? Or am I clueless to when I’ve been dissed because of my gender? I suspect the answer to all three questions at different times might be “yes”. To gain more perspective I canvassed my women friends and colleagues about how they would answer this question. The following points are a distillation of these conversations; admittedly with my own bias. And for young male scientists who are reading this, these tips will benefit your career development as well!