This weekend I went hiking and camping with two friends from graduate school. One is very close to finishing her PhD and has just gotten engaged, and the other finished her MS a year ago, works at an engineering firm, and is house-hunting. Along for the adventure were two dogs and two pygmy goats.
It was wonderful to reconnect with my friends, especially in such beautiful surroundings. Our conversations ranged from the professional to the personal, world events to the mundane details of everyday life. We talked about finding jobs, people pushing intelligent design in the national parks, pesto recipes, getting married and the fuss that goes with it, crazy long-distance running adventures, and the stress of an unfinished thesis. It was great to have those deep conversations (when is the right time to have kids? does it matter that we're women when it comes to interviewing?) but also to remember that there is a lighter, more enjoyable side of life too (especially over 2 bottles of wine).
In the past week, I've also had some great conversations with two older (50s?) women scientists, about some of the issues I've been writing about here...evolution, ethics, career paths. And it's somewhat reassuring to know that my elders are thinking about these things too. I think mentors/role models/teachers-by-example are so important. There's no one person I want to emulate everything about, but I can learn something from each one of them.
So thanks to all the women who have gone down these paths before me and thanks to all those who are forging their own paths alongside me. The company is wonderful and the view is exhilirating.