My takeover of the STEM squad account

DAY 1/2. HOW DO WE ENCOURAGE MORE WOMEN IN STEM?

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It’s been an absolute pleasure to take over @thestemsquad account and be surrounded by people who talk about ideas with the aim of making things better.
How we encourage more women in STEM is the first question I asked. Do women need more visibility?
Yes and no. Actually, women do apply for STEM disciplines at university. The problem is that they get lost along the way. A recent report showed that, in chemistry, the percentage of female undergrads is 44%. The number drops to 35% for graduate students and only 9% of professors are female.

So the real question here is how we make sure that women don’t leave, because sounds like they do have an interest in science. Recently, the Irish government decided to give grants for female-only professorships! Not sure that this is a solution either. Gender equality doesn’t only mean matching up numbers. .In my opinion training on unconscious bias and more mentorship scheme for female scientists would be definitely a good starting point. What’s your opinion and what the university should do to support women in science? To follow the whole conversation click here.
If interested in the topic, I posted a few articles which led to interesting conversations, such as landline to tackle academic bullying, the struggle of being the only female student in the lab.

DAY 4. HOW TO IMPLEMENT SUSTAINABILITY IN DAILY LIFE.

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I am a PhD researcher at the Centre for Doctorial Training in Sustainable Chemistry. The first semester of my PhD was a master in green chemistry. It was back then that I started being more conscious about the environment. One of the biggest myth about sustainability is that someone else will solve the problem. The action of the individual is definitely the biggest contribution and changing habits is key. Switching to better eco-friendly choices is time-consuming and expensive. However, you can follow, the tips of my friend Laura who runs a blog wastefreephd.com and an Instagram page totally dedicated to getting waste-free. This does not mean that legislation doesn’t have to contribute. It pains me that some politicians aren’t on board to take action to support the environment and blame someone else for the problem. The action of the individual is important but without charg

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e in legislation, we won’t have a high impact. It also pains me to hear that climate scientists have an agenda. Although at the start of the problem of global warming some data were fabricated, 99.9% of the scientists work ethically. Finally, what’s the challenge of implementing sustainability on a daily basis and on large scale. The cost of new technology which is nowhere competitive to the cost of the traditional and well-established ones. There’s a long way to go but, in my opinion, we need to work together either by changing legislation but a radical change in one’s habits has to follow too.

DAY 5. HOW DO WE MEASURE SUCCESS AND HOW WE DO IT IN ACADEMIA?IMG_20181004_085121_667

Success is a personal achievement. It’s a mindset of setting and achieving goals. When you want something, you do whatever it takes to achieve your goals. Two features are key to success: 1. believe in yourself and 2. never give up
How do we measure success in #gradschool? It depends on your goals and what you want out of your education. If like me you want to get a PhD and go away (arrivederci, ciao), the training is the most important thing. A PhD is a TRAINING for learning how to become a scientist. Being a scientist means being creative, inventing the things that none has done yet, analysing data and drawing reasonable conclusions, it means developing critical thinking, creative problem solving and help me adding all the transferrable skills you gain by doing a PhD. Some of us do a million things beyond PhD, running YouTube channels, having personal blogs, doing the sci-comm, organising events, writing for magazines etc. In academia, all this counts (how many times you heard the word waste of time??) but in the outside world, this does make the difference. If you start gradschool with the goal of becoming a professor, the story is different. Getting a lecturship is highly competitive, There are unspoken criteria that one has to meet. Like it or not, success is measured by the number of papers, preferably the big names, which professor you did your PhD or postdoc with, how many years of postdoc you do, no more of 2 or 3, prize awards, book chapters etc. When starting gradschool, set up your goals, make a plan and have realistic expectations.

The topic was by far very successful and brough loads of engagment to the page. I will reshare some of the top comments. “I think success should be measured by whether or not you are using the skills you learned in a way that makes you fulfilled. I have no desire to work in academia so staying in it would not be “successful” for me, while it absolutely would for someone else”; and more “My idea is simple, based on a life adoring academia, and realizing how flawed/toxic the system is… Success is what you want it to be, you’re under no obligation to fit anyone else’s definition of success. Don’t waste your life meeting someone else’s standards. Meet yours.” And my favourite one was by far “I’ve stopped considering publications and prestigious universities. This is just about money. Success in academia ?: Is the lab dynamic smooth and optimistic? What about people reputation? Are the topic and personalities balanced ? Are people proud to work on their project …

DAY 6. HOW TO MANAGE MONEY IN GRADSCHOOL.

This is quite a sensitive topic as not all the PhD positions come with money. I have a scholarship of £1200/month, courtesy of the CDTSusChem, which is pretty standard salary in the UK. My PhD provides me with extra money for consumables, chemistry is a quite expensive research, and I have £1500/y for travelling. The programme is awesome, we also have extra training and if want to do an internship, we can apply for money too. I’m aware this is a privilege so, the first take home message of the day is: choose wisely! You bring value to the institution too. Don’t forget it.

Comments for the audience “ I do have a fellowship now! But I didn’t for the first 3 years of my PhD. In BerkeleyPhysics, I got funded either as a TA or RA. The TA obligations were 20 hrs/week in teaching a recitation section, grading, etc. and was paid by the department. The RA obligations were nominally 20 hrs/wk but in practice full-time research; I was paid directly by my advisor’s funds. The salary is complicated, but roughly it varied from $2100 to $3000/mo, pre-tax. It varied by semester based on whether I was a TA vs. RA

There are defenetely a few traditional ways to make money as grad student such as teaching/tutoring/demonstrating/invigilating during exams. But what about setting up your own business while still doing your PhD? This is what I did creating crocheting science, my online shop on Etsy. I got extrimely inspired by Heidi Gardner and her online shop ScienceOnApostcard and Christine Ramen who created the STEM squad and twophotonart.com