Monday 24 October 2022

How to be your best self

Did I mention that I attended an Ada Lovelace Women in Science event at The Institute? I did. It was an interesting morning because I secured cogent advice on two quite different aspects of living your best life. The first set is really a bit late for me, but The Blob isn't all about me: it's also about sharing cogent advice with people who are younger than The Bus Pass Years.

Prof Orla Feely [above hanging out with some young engineers at  St Brigid's and St Patrick's National School in Drogheda earlier in the year] is still in post and so quite a bit younger than me; but quite a bit older than the students who passed through my clutches classes between 2013 and 2020. I did my best for them and I suspect that little enough of the abiding memories stemmed from what was on the curriculum: the jokes, the anecdotes, the current affairs references are just more sticky. Prof Feely was, in some sense, addressing her younger [female] self. Some points / advice:

  • Note to The Man: 
    • Do not burden active young women with your gender equality box ticking exercises. It's not on them to carry water for your systemic failings and obtrusive patriarchy. Give the gender equality task to the bloke who is clearly doing the bare minimum for the community . . . even if he is your Top Gun in attracting research funding.
  • Notes to The Women:
    • Carpe diem! If you need to do something which is important to your whole / true self; take time off to do it. Go part-time if child care or elder care require it. Those tedious committee meetings will trundle on without your dynamic input. The Kidder will be in junior infants in a few years and The Dear Old Dad will also move on to the other place. Then you can wale in at work again.
    • Joe Biden: " Show me your budget and I'll see what you value"
    • Orla Feely: "Show me your diary and I'll see what you value" which is a cleverer insight into work-life balance. Not least because it suggests that there is more to "value" than bloody money
    • set your priorities and fight for the top items
    • Find your voice and don't be intimidated by older, blokier, dinosaurs. You are the future, so you have more skin in the game.
    • Reinforce the voice of younger colleagues; ensure that their good points are re-affirmed in meetings
    • Work your network. The patriarchy doesn't go it alone; why should you?
    • Identify mentors, who have done a bit of path-finding
    • In due course, deliver the flame downwards to your students and dependents. Let them take on some responsibility: maybe a little bit more than they feel comfortable with.
There that will do: young women of science, you don't want the message filtered through a blobby old silverback. Find your mentor.

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