Wednesday, August 1, 2012
My intent with this blog has always been to encourage science practitioners to excel in their work and in life, whatever their field or gender. With the change in title and emphasis, however, I think the blog will better reflect my overall intent. I'm not changing the URL as yet, partly because I'm unsure how to do this without screwing everything up on Blogger. Maybe I will do this in the future, but for now, I'll leave it alone. I plan to continue talking about the challenges that women face in STEM fields, but want to ensure that the blog content does not appear to be restricted to that topic or of interest only to female readers.
I've also worried about giving the wrong impression that women in science need "special help" to succeed. That is certainly not the case, but it is invariably the reaction I get from some people. There's a lot more to be said on this topic, but I'll leave it for another post.
After some thought, I came up with the title, The Singular Scientist. The term, singular, means extraordinary, exceptional, remarkable, one of a kind. The new name refers not to me, but to you, the reader. Too often, we settle for less than this, especially when being exceptional in your work is discouraged by peer pressure. I know this pressure all too well and continue to experience it, even as a senior scientist. During the almost four years of writing for this blog, I've become painfully aware of the difficulties that many students, postdocs, and early-career scientists face, which eat away at their confidence and desire to persevere in their chosen fields. Female scientists and students working in male-dominated fields are particularly susceptible, but anyone can find themselves in a similar situation at any stage of their career.
You may wonder why anyone would shun the opportunity to be outstanding. For some, the desire to be accepted overrides the desire to achieve one's potential. For others, there is simply a lack of basic confidence in one's ability to excel, which may be rooted in early experiences and/or inherent personality traits. Even for highly successful people, there will be instances when we are faced with new challenges that appear to exceed our capabilities (such people are possibly most vulnerable, not having had much experience dealing with failure). In other words, we all need help and encouragement from time to time.
I've worked through a number of challenges that I faced in my career by writing about them in this blog, which helped me to see solutions and/or to gain some perspective on the problem. By simultaneously sharing these thoughts with readers, I have possibly helped others who might be experiencing similar challenges. I also wanted to contribute to the growing online documentation of the experiences of scientists and especially those of female scientists.
Anyway, those are the main reasons I've changed the title. I don't anticipate changing the content of posts, but hope to write a bit more frequently than I have in recent months.