Sunday, May 24, 2009

Letters to Our Daughters / Lessons for Girls: Not Alone

There is a new post up over at Isis' place, in her series, Letters to Our Daughters. The topic, You're Not Alone, is one I toyed with for Historiann's Lessons for Girls, but never got around to writing.

The author of the letter, Dr. Hannah Jang-Condell, writes to her daughter:

So here's my advice: you are not alone. Whatever it is you're going through, you're almost certainly not the first. Sure, there may not be many other women in astronomy in your situation, but if you look around, maybe you'll find a woman in mathematics or physiology who has gone through or is going through the same thing....[Networking is] also about getting to know people who share your experiences, and also about simply making friends. Academia can be very isolating, especially if you're part of a minority group, like a woman or a mother.

As it is, we specialize in particular areas of our field (an anthropologist, an archaeologist, an historical archaeologist, with a thing for industrial sites, feminist archaeological theory, historiography, etc.). Toss on the pile other divisions, like being a woman, queer, not having kids, etc., and it can be pretty lonely.

Finding others with similar interests and experiences to talk to, bounce things off of, etc. is really, really awesome. And finding someone to bounce ideas off who isn't directly in your field can really shake up and challenge your thinking about something. In my book, that's a good thing.

Not being alone is powerful stuff. Thumbs-up to Isis and Dr. Jang-Condell for reminding me, when I kinda needed a reminding. Now, if I could just get over my reluctance to impose on anyone / shyness / omg what if they say no ...


Bavardess said...

This is a good reminder, especially in a culture that usually pushes us to compete with each other and to see difference, rather than to explore the things we may (unexpectedly) have in common. I can also be a bit over-conscious about imposing, but I just keep repeating the mantra 'if you don't ask, you don't get'. I'm often pleasantly surprised at the results.

Digger said...

I've been thinking about this. And I think "not wanting to impose" is me telling myself that whatever I'm working on couldn't possibly be as important or interesting as what someone else is working on. And that by extension, -I- couldn't possibly be as important or interesting as they are.

I need to get over that shit if I'm going to be taken seriously. Seriously!