Stay away from toxic people/environment

This was originally an Instagram post which I converted in a blog article because I hear too many nasty stuff about people being open about sexual harassment and mental health in academia. These are real problems and covering them up by pretending they don’t exist, we won’t solve anything. Much more painful is to hear that we will have troubles getting a job because of it.

When I applied for grad school, I was a happy and enthusiastic researcher. Then, if you follow me more a while, you know the end of the story. A few weeks ago, I gave an interview to the 500 women scientists to talk about my experience in grad school and how I am proactive in raising awareness of the problems, not to criticise the system or complain, but to change things for the better. Since this is my last year in grad school, I started feeling under pressure because speaking about the crap in the system while you are still in the system can put you the label of a snitch. And no one wants to hire a snitch. I asked the 500 women scientists to retract my interview.

What I do is important to stand up for myself and empower people

After the initial panic, I put my head straight and made a reflection. What I do is actually important, I advocate for mental health in academia, I try to empower women in stem and I use social media for educational purpose. When I started, my PhD, I didn’t know the dark side of academia but I know now and I do not want to find myself in the same conditions when I apply for a job. If a company doesn’t hire me because of my voice against the injustice, it means that some behaviours and mentalities are accepted in that company. I do not want to work for them. I gave off my sanity for this PhD, I will not do this again. There’s no price that I can trade off for my wellbeing and mental health. I am 100% aware that I have a choice now and I will make good use of it.

Do I think that my social media afford is a waste of time? Not for one second.

Many of us use their social media to promote their work, market themselves and gain visibility to boost their future career and have something nice on their CV rather than writing down the usual things like data analysis, use of PRC, western blots, NMR spectroscopy. How cool is putting in your CV that you successfully implemented a social media marketing strategy to promote yourself? Everyone is entitled to have an opinion and Instagram,  just an app for smartphone, allowed many people to express themselves and convey their message outside their circle of friends. Many smart folks converted a hobby in a full-time job, make extra money, gain collaborations. Instagram opened doors that would have been impossible to reach out.

Make a good use of yuor willpower

On social and in real life, we have a choice! We can choose which people to stick to, which people to work for and who leave behind because they don’t add value to our life or make it worse. We can give people the gift of our friendship and our value in the job market or we can decide we don’t want to. You don’t have to follow people if they make you feel bad.  You have the choice to decide who you want to work for, someone who embraces your vision and ethic and which opportunities you want to turn down. We have a choice to express ourselves and allow others to do the same. Do it with any means and do not be afraid to stand up for yourself and for others. The world needs women with a voice, now more than ever!

Suggested books to help boosting your confidence and finding your voice as a female scientists

You are a badass by Jen Sincero

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Inferior – How science got women wrong and the new research that rewriting it by Angela Siani