Women and men applying for geoscience postdocs receive very different letters of support from their mentors.
From the peer-review process to our very concept of what it means to be brilliant, studies show that women face subtle biases and structural barriers to success in the geosciences.
For most of my educational and professional life, I pursued a fairly standard trajectory. A bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy, a master’s in optical physics, and a Ph.D. in astronomy prepared me for a postdoctoral fellowship and subsequent work as a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. I moved on to a visiting professorship and then a research professorship at Tufts University. I thought I was well on my way to a stable career as an astronomer. Then it stalled, and my second life beckoned.
In the context of institutional discrimination, women most frequently report being discriminated
against because they are women when applying for jobs and when it comes to being paid equally
or considered for promotions. While women of different racial or ethnic backgrounds reported
different rates of discrimination, workplace discrimination remains the most frequently reported
issue for women across racial and ethnic identities.
I could not have known that my vision of faculty life would become anachronistic by the time I was out of graduate school.