Penn State

Erica Smithwick - Associate Professor of Geography, Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Door in the Dream: Conversations with Eminent Women in Science

Author: Elga Wasserman

Book Description:

 I read this book as a post-doc, engrossed in the daily juggle of managing a young family and a career.  I had an amazing mentor at the time and her influence greatly guided my life's path.  Now as a mentor myself, I've found that women often are best supported by seeing examples of how women succeed.  This book provides those examples as National Academy women scientists open up honestly about the course of their careers and family/life balance.  At an individual level, the focus is on how they approached key decisions and opportunities.  As a set, the women highlight the importance of a partner (or social network) and a mentor or role-model who provided a key opportunity at the right time.  But, perhaps most strikingly, none of the women had the same path.  The idea that each women charted her own course through the complicated maze of academic life somehow makes it all more real and possible and encourages us not to conform or be intimidated by others' choices or timelines.  This is freeing.  

The other reason I chose this book is because I can never remember the title.  I always confuse it with the saying my rowing coach had during my undergraduate years, which was "Through the Door" -- the idea that there is a certain point in life where if you push just a little harder you can see the other side.  So, in some sense, the confusion in the title is perfect.


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