Our recommended readings for scientists
Karin Bodewits, Andrea Hauk und Philipp Gramlich: Career guide for female Natural Scientists
Sorry ladies! Our book is only available in German. Visit the German website to get a long text about our book (written by the publisher Wiley).
Our book includes sections on: career choice, perfect application, in the job, job and family, plus extra sections on labour law
“If you have to eat shit, don´t nibble.” Advice for running a company when the sun is not shining, when there are no good solutions, when you have to choose between catastrophic and cataclysmic. Leadership books tend to be written by MBA graduates who write about successful people sailing through to success. Ben Horowitz calls this peacetime leaders, which is but one side of the medal when running a company or taking any other responsible position in an organisation. However, things don´t go smooth all the time, and that´s when wartime leaders come in. Ben Horowitz was CEO of a tech company during the dotcom crash and had to go public in order to avoid bankruptcy- at a time when “tech company” was synonymous to “syphilis” on the stock markets. In other words he´s got his fair share of wartime leadership experience. Politeness and positive activation of your staff´s creative side are peacetime techniques. In wartime, they get replaced by deliberately used swearwords and sometimes even threats, a wartime technique for setting clear aims: “I don´t give a fuck how well trained you are. If you don´t bring me five hundred thousand dollars a quarter, I am putting a bullet in your head”- to quote Mark Cranney, his treasured Head of Sales. The author thereby creates clarity in the book itself as well, which conventional textbooks could not yield: Delivering criticism should for instance not be done by using the “shit sandwich” of the well-known triad of positive-negative-positive points you raise, but plain and simple. Hard to find a crib that´s easier to remember. An eye-opening and thoroughly readable book on how to lead in difficult situations.
‘I was told, I was rarer than a giant panda,’ shares Lesley Yellowlees, professor at the University of Edinburgh and past president of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Whoever told her this, the content of the message was clear: female chemistry professors or heads of school are still difficult to find. Do females struggle to see how to combine a career in academia with bearing and rearing children, is that why they leak from the pipeline? In Mom the chemistry professor, 16 female chemists aim to inspire female students to stay in science by sharing how they combined pregnancies and raising their descendants with their scientific or teaching career. Except for one lady, who happens to be a single mum, they all have one thing in common: a very supportive husband who understands the demands of a career in science, and is willing to either make strong concessions in his own career or at least welcomes a nanny. If you found Mr Perfect, have an unproblematic pregnancy and get healthy offspring, the wide range of tips in the book can help you succeed in your career. Or at least the book shows that it is thinkable to aim high in academia and be an amazing mum at the same time. It is not always easy, but it is rewarding and possible. Most of the stories are interesting, showing that there are ‘normal’, warm-hearted human beings with typical worries behind the professor title, and almost all encourage others to follow the academic route. However, after reading six personal accounts, which are similar in setup and take-home message, you might think ‘…another ten to go?’ The last chapter finally highlights a different aspect that pregnant and nursing chemists face: the known and unknown hazards for the foetus and baby during pregnancy. How to continue a career in an environment where one is naturally exposed to toxins? In other words, how does the giant panda survive during times it is not able to harvest its own bamboo? I would recommend this book, not just to students but also to policy makers who would like to see more females pursuing a career in higher education. Reading about their motivations and thoughts at different stages in their career might give a better understanding of why some decide to leave.
This review was originally published in Chemistry World.