While I'm not completely done with my degree (I still have comments on my dissertation to wait for, and trust me, I am already stressed about what might come of that), graduating was a big milestone for me. It was just great to feel like I have accomplished something. Honestly, right after publishing my first first-author paper, this ranks high on the "YAY!" feelings. While sitting back and listening to the hooding ceremony go on (and on and on and on--oh, and somewhere in there they turned off the AC and those big poofy robes are not cool!), I was trying to keep myself awake by paying attention to the students and their advisers. Some of the main points I came to while trying not to doze:
-There were just as many women as men graduating. This is an established fact by now, but it was still refreshing to see in person. The degrees were skewed depending on the department (with fewer females in physics, and less men in child psychology), and it was really interesting to watch how it played out.
-The advisers conferring hoods were more male than female, but not by much. Those with huge batches of students (I couldn't believe it when there were advisers up there giving out 5 or 6 hoods in a go--sheesh!), were more likely to be male. What this says about science in general is interesting to think about. More of the big labs on campus are run by men? They have more research funds to support grad students? Something to look into.
-There were a lot of degrees in entomology. I don't know why I started noticing this, but one does get bored sitting there for a couple of hours...
-The sheer numbers of doctorates awarded was almost frightening. There were about six from my department alone, and I know only two of them have jobs. I know the job market is depressed due to the economy, but looking around I really started wondering how many of the graduates were looking at unemployment. It is a frightening thought. It also makes me wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong with the academic process as it currently stands. Do we need professors to retire earlier (as some have suggested to me) so that those of us just starting out have a chance at a job? Or does something else need to change? This is a topic I would love to discuss more here if anyone is interested in a post!
-The women obtaining their degrees appeared younger than their male counterparts. Now, I'm really bad at estimating age in general, but it did seem to me that a lot of the women looked younger (had less wrinkles and grey hair) than those males finishing up. Why is this? Women more likely to "power through" like me, so they are still reproductively viable once they're done? (That doesn't sound very good, but you know what I mean :) Either way, it was interesting to note.
At any rate, I loved seeing all the pomp and circumstance of the celebration. It may be out of date and kinda strange, but it was fun. It also made me think this:
Been there, done that.
After six years of grad school, there are a few things I've picked up from personal experience and a whole lot of time talking with other female grad students (AKA procrastinating). I've always wished there had been some kind of handbook about how to handle the whole world of graduate school, so I figured I'd start a friendly place to discuss what it's like to be female in grad school, and maybe pass on some wisdom too!