Mom in the Marsh

My twin, I mean mother, and I enjoying the beach.

The highest compliment anyone can give me is to comment on how similar I am to my mother. My mom is the most amazing woman I know and I love when people joke about us being twins or sisters. But, it is not just her appearance I admire; I aspire to have her work ethic, perseverance, and independence. I owe a lot of who I am today to my mother.

Recently, I have been thinking about why I became a scientist and how I have been able to make it this far. An article just came out that found by the time girls reach the age of six they already have negative beliefs about female intelligence. I was surprised by this finding because I can only remember one instance where I felt singled out or intellectually inferior because I am a woman. I never really thought I was special or overcoming a gender disadvantage as I settled into science. After reading about how young girls are dissuaded from activities that require brilliance as opposed to hard work and how it might prevent some young women from pursuing STEM careers I began to consider how I was raised.

My mom was a big help in the field. She recorded data,
processed samples, and helped carry equipment.
 Both of my parents instilled in my sister and I the idea that we could do anything and be anyone we wanted if we worked hard and put in effort. Nothing was off-limits or out of reach because I was a girl. So, I acted that way growing up and I still act that way now. The belief that I can be anything if I work hard enough is the most important lesson my parents taught me. My parents did not just say these things to me they taught by example. I saw how hard my mom worked when I was growing up; when I was in elementary and middle school I watched my mom successfully balance working full time, raising my sister and I, and earning her bachelors and master’s degrees. I try to remember everything my mom accomplished when I am struggling.
My mom helping me take surface water
salinity measurements.

I was thrilled when my mom offered to help me with field work when she visited over spring break. She helped collect samples on our Peat Collapse project. We were working in the sawgrass marsh by Pahayokee which meant she would have to wade out to our boardwalk in water that came just above our knees. I was not surprised my adventurous mother was so willing to help me with my research. My mom admitted that she was a little nervous walking out to the board walk and said she was relieved that she did not actually see any snakes or alligators. 

My mom almost made it through the entire day before taking a tumble and getting stuck in the muck. She responded by laughing it off! Unfortunately, I also inherited her clumsiness.

I would love to hear about your experiences bringing family into the field, so comment below!

Comments

  1. I also never experienced academic sexism until I came to FIU/Miami and was up against machismo from a few specific individuals. There is also no clear best time to start a family in the academic track, and I think this affects women more than men.

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