Hey readers :).
Hope you’re all doing well! I’ve been receiving a lot of support for my new website womenincocosci.com, and I wanted express an immense gratitude for everyone who has looked at that, and who has read this blog over the years.
Stephanie recently told me that she loved the blog, and the amazing way I see the world. I had never formalized it so neatly, but that phrasing—I like the blog, and therefore the way you see the world—captures exactly why blog compliments are pretty much the best compliments you could give me. I don’t actually read blogs, so I recognize how incredible it is that you invest the time and effort necessary to read through posts, and I can’t express how much that means to me. My writing is fine: it’s less excitable, wryly self-deprecating, and flowery than when I was younger, but it hasn’t fundamentally changed that much. But my best ideas always appear in the blog before I deliver them in person, and I appreciate that validation so, so much.
And then there was this website. I started a science outreach website, and posted it on the blog (my parents gave me positive reviews :)) and then to the people who I’d promised it to—friends who taking a few years off and who had asked for advice on the graduate school process. And people liked it. People liked it to the extent that I considered actually trying to disseminate it, which I’ve never seriously done before. I have an unusually adverse reaction to trying to sell things to people they might not want—sales would be the worst job for me—so I’ve never tried to use my network in a large-scale fashion.
But WOW. I had no idea that I had a network that could—that—I can’t even describe—it’s been incredible. I sat down one night and sent it to the Wellesley Class of 2015 Facebook group. And the Wellesley Class of 2016 Facebook group. And the 2017 and 2018 and 2019 and 2020 Facebook groups (asked my sisters, who are Class of 2020 and 2018, for help, and friends in the intervening years). I sent it to the alumni Wellesley Facebook groups and to the Wellesley Women in Neuroscience Facebook groups. I sent it to my friends. I sent it to the Facebook group for young people who’d attended the computational neuroscience conference Cosyne this year and last year and the professors who organized that. I sent it to my friends who had done the MIT summer program two summers ago. I sent it to my blogging boss at Wellesley Admissions, I sent it to the professors I knew at Wellesley, I sent it to other heads of science departments at Wellesley. I sent it to the professors I knew at MIT, I sent it to the lab here at Cambridge. And then I got an email from one of the professors who had liked me but whose school had rejected my graduate school application without an interview, applauding me for a great initiative and offering other resources. I have no idea where she heard about it from.
What the actual f***. There’s a page on my website where I have “Ambassadors”, or students who have gone through undergrad or started science grad school and are willing to talk about their experiences. I have people from so many different schools on that page. I had about four people email me for advice cold-turkey (which is a LOT. I’ve written the Wellesley Admissions blog—even when you flail yourself all over the internet and implore people to contact you, people generally don’t). I’ve had professors told me they like and will disseminate it to their students. I’ve had different levels of interest in different forums (it’s really humorous to compare them, actually) but there has been a lot of interest. I had no clue this would happen.
I thought it’d be like the blog, my non-Wellesley associated blog. Mostly family and friends, with a wonderful number of other readers—about 100 visitors a month. womenincocosci.com is an information website—information websites obviously and should have higher readership than diary-like blogs like mine—but I just didn’t think it’d be that big a deal. I literally learned how to make a website a few months ago. I wrote most of that html and css script. It was just me sitting there with a Mac and being like—I don’t think that’s pretty, why don’t I do this instead. It still isn’t a super nice website—it stretches weird and doesn’t work on anything not a full-blown computer—but people, a lot of people, were just so positive about it.
It’s so crazy. It’s so crazy that I know people at Wellesley and MIT and the University of Cambridge and Harvard Medical School and now Berkeley and students around the States and that I can learn how to make a website and make a website and write about undergrad science degrees not particularly well but well-meaningly and… it’ll go places. Wow. I mean, like, when I imagined myself in the future when I was younger, like, wow. (Gotta make sure not to die. I’m still in the phase of my life when people have invested more in me than I’ve produced, so gotta make sure not to get run over by a bus when cycling. Still just one student out of many, many other bright and brighter students, more potential than concrete worth. Make sure to stay healthy and happy and productive.)
It’s been amazing, readers. Spreading womenincocosci.com around was a temporary thing but I’m so glad it’s going to be useful to people, that it’s going to reach people and they’re going to not make the exact same mistakes that I did. Because I feel like a lot of life is trying to figure out how to do something, and there are people who have already figured it out, and I’ll be so happy if fewer people have to reinvent the wheel and can instead jump forward and invent new stuff. That’s the reason why I started emailing everyone I know—this is something I believe in, something I think is important: reducing stupid “I just didn’t know” failures, increasing actual productivity. And I’m so glad, and astounded, that those goals I have and who I am worked, and can be shared by others.