Thanks to my Instagram and Twitter accounts I met lots of amazing women in STEM. Some of them agreed to be interviewed by me and to tell us their story.
Hi Natasha! First of all would you like to tell us something about you?
Hi, there! My name is Natasha. I’m a postdoctoral T32 fellow in psychology and neuroscience. This is my second year of postdoc and I’ll be going on the academic job market in fall! I’m originally from California. I received my BA in psychology and social behavior from UC Irvine and my PhD in psychology from Temple University.
When did you start your blog and your Instagram account? How did you get the idea?
I started Woman Meets Academia during my final year of graduate school. I had been thinking a lot about my experience in graduate school–how it affected me, changed me, and how isolated I often felt. I wanted to create a space to connect with other graduate students; to foster a shared experience so that people could learn from each other, support each other, and feel like they were not alone in their journey. Now, I’ve broadened my scope to all academics. Beyond fostering a shared experience, my goal is to increase the visibility of scientists on social media. We come in all “shapes and sizes”!
Can you tell us something about how you balance work and private life?
This has been an area of ongoing improvement for me. I’ve started to set hard boundaries between work and my private life. I rarely work on weeknights and weekends. I’ve stopped forcing myself to ignore family on holidays in the interest of work. It can be hard. Sometimes I sacrifice my personal well-being to catch up on work and other times I neglect my work a little too much. But they key for me has been boundaries and releasing myself of guilt. My values are what they are and I feel empowered to live my life in a way that suits me best.
During your studies how many women were in course? Why in your opinion?
Psychology is traditionally a male-dominated field but I often found myself surrounded by women, probably because I was in developmental psychology. My perception has been that there are more men in clinical, cognitive, or quantitative psychology. I’d love to see greater representation of women in quant!
Have you ever felt harassed or being kept apart as a scholar because you are a woman?
Honestly, no. I am very grateful to have been surrounded by supportive and respectful people throughout my academic journey. I’m sure microaggressions and the like have slipped under my radar. I’m trying to be more aware of those things and to empower myself to speak up when I see an injustice. People are entitled to equality and safety in the workplace.
How did you become passionate about science?
I fell into science. I am passionate about people. I want to understand and help them. Science is a way for me to do that. My favorite thing about science is getting to explore questions that interest me and that help others. One day I hope to transition my work so that I’m answering questions that interest and immediately affect the people I’m studying. Science isn’t about the scientists. It’s about the people it helps!
Would you like to talk briefly about your job?
Sure! I study the biological (brain and hormones), social (friends and parents), and psychological (personality traits) factors that influence adolescent decision-making and risk taking. I spend my days running analyses on data and writing up the results to be published in academic journals and presented at conferences. Currently I’m not involved in active data collection, so all the science happens on my computer!
Thank you so much for your time. Lastly, can you give any advice to girls interested in stem?
It’s been a pleasure! I have three pieces of advice:
1) Your abilities are flexible. No matter how hard something feels, you are capable of mastering it.
2) Take advantage of opportunities to learn new things.
3) There is a place in STEM for everyone. Be curious and explore your options!