This is my first blog post. Ever.
Why did I decide to start a blog? Why do I want to throw my opinion into the digital world, why do I want to promote my own science, or rather, myself? Why am I building this altar for myself? Why would anyone care about what I write?
Well, according to the Nature jobs blog http://blogs.nature.com/naturejobs/2012/11/23/why-female-scientists-dont-blog-but-should , female scientists don’t blog, but should – because women are underrepresented in the media, and seem to be reluctant to put themselves forward. However, Athene Donald argues here http://www.nature.com/spoton/2012/11/spoton-london-2012-to-blog-or-not-to-blog/ that much is to be gained from blogging by female scientists. Social media can help you get your research (and you) more known, but it can also increase your writing skills, something which I, as a non native English speaker, am always interested in. In addition, you can also see blogging as online mentoring, something which I am very interested in (I have been involved in two mentoring schemes for women in ecology by the British Ecological Society http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/getting_involved/mentorship.php )
However, apart from these strategic motivations, I really feel that I might have something to say.
I am a female early career ecologist. I moved to England for a post doc after my PhD in the Netherlands, and now after four years of post doc-ing in Lancaster, I will start as a Fellow at the University of Manchester. In other words: I will get to be my own independent person, and I will get the opportunity to set up my own research group. I will be responsible for my own research and my own funding, my own collaborations and my own lab facilities. They will expect me to bring in money, and I will have to teach, although the teaching load will be moderate. Then, after three years, I will be evaluated, and they will decide whether to give me a permanent job, or not.
This fantastic opportunity wasn’t just thrown at me. The past four years have been a bumpy road, with lots of self-doubt and insecurity, despite a steadily, and in the last year, explosively growing CV. They have been years of immensely enjoying the research I am doing, but also of always having a little voice saying in the back of my mind: was it the right decision to pursue a career in academia? Do I have it in me? Should I apply for this lectureship, because it means security, even though this is not the place where I want to work for another 10 years? How many hours should I work, or rather, how many hours should I NOT work?
This list of questions, and also their presence in my mind, will probably never end. However, I won’t just write about those questions in this blog. I also want to write about the science I do, the science I find interesting, and the science that I think everyone should know about.
In the coming weeks however, I suspect that my writing will be dominated by the move from Lancaster University to the University of Manchester, and all the complications that this will bring!