This is not about the annual reports we have to write for grants -- though I did just write the last of several that I had to do this spring and I have some strong but uninteresting opinions about the categories of things about which we have to report to NSF. I will say that my favorite part is that when there is a box to fill in with some prose about how one's research has transformed society, infrastructure, and some other stuff, there is an option to click that says "Nothing to Report (Yet)". That "Yet" is very kind.
Should blogs have annual reports? It might not be the most interesting or controversial topic, but in looking over posts from two years ago, when I first started writing as FSP, I see some significant changes in my situation compared to now. Also, my philosophy of blogging has evolved over time, perhaps because initially I didn't have one.
Should I use an NSF annual report template for my blog annual report? No, been there/done that. I am going to adopt a more random format.
Today I will write about: What has changed in two years?
Tomorrow I will write about: My Blogosophy, such as it is.
So: What has changed in the past two years?
(1) Two years ago I had trouble being taken seriously as a professor and a scientist because I didn't "look the part". Now that I am deeper into my 40's, I think that I now look my age, though I still have a problem with not looking like the stereotypical professor/scientist owing to my gender and perhaps also to second-order characteristics -- e.g., lack of eyeglasses, general appearance (color/style of hair, style of clothes etc.).
Even so, the fact that I have been active in my profession and field for so long has given me increasing stature, and the incidences in which I am not taken seriously or in which I am specifically discriminated against owing to my gender have decreased noticeably in the space of 2 years. Unfortunately, the decrease is from a relatively high frequency and has not diminished to the extent of being rare.
(2) I was angrier two years ago. Some of the things that made me angry have been resolved by a change in academic administration; by having other options for professor-jobs at other universities; and by the positive resolution of some situations that were beyond my control but that significantly impacted my work/life. I dealt with other things that used to make me quite angry by deciding to focus more on the parts of my job that I really enjoy -- research, teaching -- and not let obnoxious colleagues and administrative issues dominate my emotional state so much.
This blog has definitely helped with how I feel about negative interactions with obnoxious colleagues. When they do something particularly obnoxious, instead of just feeling angry and thwarted, I write about it and this gives me a more positive perspective on the situation.
Deciding to focus on research and teaching might not sound like a difficult decision, and in the end it wasn't, but it meant giving up on caring about having a leadership role in my department/university, something no/few women have achieved and something that I used to think was an important goal. After thinking about it a lot, and writing about it some, I reached my current state of mind about this issue because I realized that I can have more of an impact by being a successful scientist and educator, and that this is what I am best at and enjoy the most.
I am glad that there are some women who are interested in administrative leadership positions and who excel at such important work, but I think it is also important for some women to be active and visible scientists, and that is the route I am taking with my career. This doesn't rule out my changing my mind later, but for now, I am pleased with the directions my career has taken in recent years.
Those are the Big Two in terms of changes in the past two years: I've aged (in years and appearance) and I'm less angry. There are probably others, but I have written nearly 500 posts (this is 496, to be exact) and an exhaustive reading of the archives would be .. exhausting.
To anyone who has read any (or all) of this blog, thanks for reading.
6 months ago