I’m Leila and this blog is something I’ve been thinking about for at least a couple years. I’m really excited to finally get it off the ground, and hope it provides some visibility and support for other women in the geosciences. For our first post, I thought I’d give some background on how this blog came about.
I’m in a PhD program and have been a graduate student for what feels like a long, long time. I love what I do (geoarchaeology is seriously the coolest), but for most of this PhD I have struggled to stay motivated. I’ve struggled to continue to overcome obstacles, both the usual obstacles women—particularly women of color and other complex identities—face in the sciences, and the obstacles particular to my own life and research. The hardest part of the last several years has been feeling really, really alone. I felt like I was the only one struggling, the only one worn out from leaping over (or getting back up after) hurdles, like I was the only one who was frustrated and failing.
Thankfully, I have friends in graduate programs and in the geosciences in particular. When I started reaching out to them, I started to feel a little better. It helped to know that other women who seemed like they had it super together, like they were blowing past obstacles, also felt like they were struggling. Yes, some of the obstacles we face are different, and some of us are facing more and taller hurdles than others. And no, it didn’t fix everything. But finding the right people to talk to helped.
More than anything else, I found it helpful to meet up with a couple friends for happy hour and complain about our problems over a nice (but grad budget appropriate) cocktail or beer. More often than not, the complaints gave way to laughter and the three of us went away feeling better. Sympathy and solidarity goes a long way. When those two friends finished their degrees and/or left town, I looked for a way to continue Cocktails and Complaints.
In 2015, Mackenzie (who also writes for this blog) and I began hosting Wine and Whine. Rather than meeting somewhere downtown, we went the budget-friendly route by inviting people to hang out in our homes. Our early events were open invite: bring whoever you want as long as they bring drinks or snacks, too. We never set out to have women-only events; it just happened that way. I had never felt a need for women-only, men-only, etc. events or occasions, so I was surprised at how wonderful it was to be in a room of all female scientists. The sympathy and support I’d felt at those early Cocktails and Complaints was there in spades. We weren’t mansplained to or told we were wrong about X professor being a creeper. We didn’t tell one another to toughen up or that we lacked a sense humor. If the conversation turned to typically girly things like shoes, clothes, hair, or whoever’s child, no one huffed or made a snide comment. It felt great.
Just like those early Cocktails and Complaints, Whine and Wine helped. Every single evening had a point at which freely complaining about life, research, and work turned into laughing and conversations about the things we were still (or newly) excited about. By the end of the night, everyone felt a little more supported, a little more heard. A little less alone. All it took was a couple other people to listen, to sympathize, and offer support.
My hope is this blog will be sort of a digital Wine and Whine. Whether you’re a ladygeoscientist, a non-lady person in geo- or some other sciences, or someone who doesn’t know any geoscientists at all, I hope this blog feels like you’re sitting in one of our living rooms, hearing us and being heard. As we get going, you’ll (eventually) find posts about the science we’re reading about or working on, the struggles we all have in common and the ones that don’t usually get much press. You’ll see pictures of field visits and social outings, of yet another day at our coffee cup and paper-strewn desk. You’ll see us, and our lives—the lives of five young ladygeoscientists. Welcome!