HerStories: Overview

HerStory videos chronicle successful women in science and engineering who have completed their doctoral degrees and progressed into STEM careers. Each interviewee discusses and reflects upon her own experiences during graduate school. They are organized by the Common Concern topics: Advisor Issues, Balance, Climate, and Delays.

If you find that you like a particular speaker while you are watching a video, you can read their biographical information and find more of their videos by following the links below the video player. Every video also links to related or similar messages in the “related videos” drawer.

Advisor Issues

These videos reflect on and discuss some of the complaints that graduate students frequently have about their interactions with their advisors, and offer advice on how to maintain good relationships.

Hearing from Students and Having an Impact
The importance of giving back to students and making an impact in their future education and career choices.

The Plight of the Older Student: Playing "Mom" and Other Tasks
How to maintain good relationships with colleagues while being motivated to finish the program quickly.

Options for Support
Urges students to seek multiple campus resources for support.

Pros and Cons of an International Advisor
Experiences with an international advisor.

Trade Offs and Choices
The tradeoffs and choices of graduate life.

We're Having a Baby
Challenges in confronting the advisor with news of pregnancy.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Anderson-Rowland
The importance of finding a good advisor and making sure to get everything in writing.

Seeking New Information
The importance of asking questions and searching for creative solutions to new problems.

Developing a Scientific Identity in an Advisor's Shadow
Challenges faced with establishing yourself as an independent researcher separate from an influential advisor.

Persuading an Advisor
Suggestions for defining research.

Separate Advisors and Mentors
The importance of having a variety of mentors throughout your graduate experience.

Stubbornness and Tenacity
Highlights the obstacles faced when trying to have research reviewed by the advisor and emphasizes the steps necessary to make adequate progress in the program.

Advisor Issues
How a positive advisor challenged his students to think for themselves.

Key Elements in Good Advising
The importance of being open and honest with your advisor.



These HerStories chronicle the unique challenges that graduate student women face balancing career and personal demands, and how to successfully handle them.

Changing the System vs. Focusing on Cultural Barriers for Women
Suggestions for how to increase women's participation in science with an emphasis on policy change.

Doing More Than I Could Have Imagined
Chronicles the evolution of a career over time.

Fun, Passion, and Collaboration
Emphasizes the joy in working with others and giving back to society.

International Graduate Experience
Appreciation for advisor's assistance in transitioning to the US.

Life is More than Research
The importance of evaluating your priorities to create balance and happiness.

Paths of Family Planning and Different Options Along the Way
How a flexible schedule as a professor made it possible to have a family and a career.

Stress from Conflict in a Dating Relationship
Elaborates on a dating situation.

The Two-Body Problem
Challenges with being married to a fellow academician and finding faculty positions.

The Upside to Children Prior to a Tenure Track Position
Explains the choice to have children in graduate school.

A Virtual Support System (Long Distance)
The importance of nurturing relationships outside of academia.

Compromises Outside the Realm of Children
Addresses personal relationship sacrifices.

Finding Balance While Pregnant, Moving a Lab, and Negotiating Leave
The importance of maintaining a balanced lifestyle to alleviate stress.

Getting Married During Graduate School
The decision to get married in graduate school.

Interpersonal Satisfaction
The satisfaction that comes from working with colleagues and interacting with others.

Leisure Activities
Using leisure activities to relieve stress and build friendships.

Looking Back on Raising Kids While Working
Explains the role children play in career choices.

One Option: Take Time Off and Come Back
Advises graduate students to take a semester off if they choose to have a child because it is too challenging to handle a baby and research.

Planning Experiments Around Breast Feeding, Productivity, and Encouragement (Part 1)
Creating a schedule and meeting an advisor's expectations.

Making discoveries and collaborating with others brings satisfaction.

Time Management Profile
Outlines a philosophy on time management.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Barton
The importance of knowing what you want and expecting tradeoffs on the path to get it.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Burrows
The importance of allowing yourself the opportunity to change your mind and reconsider your goals.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Fromme
The importance of defining clear goals, remaining self-confident, and learning to say no.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Lin
How to seek support and not be shy in asking for help.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Rosser
The importance of remaining passionate and remembering that the PhD opens doors.

Adoption as an Option
The decision to adopt a child after graduate school.

I Have Not Figured Out How to Say "No"
Emphasizes the challenge with saying no, but the importance of learning to do so.

Practical Satisfaction
Motivation for doing work: interacting with students and doing research that can make a difference in the world.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Si
The importance of learning over time and remaining positive in the face of criticism.

Give Yourself Credit
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately giving yourself recognition for your successes.

Dual Career Decisions
Relationship sacrifices made for career decisions.

How Do You Build Resiliency?
The importance of having a number of things in your life that bring you joy and satisfaction.

I Get By with a Little Help from My Mother in Law
The importance of a supportive extended family in helping to balance school and children.

Leisure Activities: Dr. Anderson Rowland
Ways to spend leisure time.

Leisure Activities: The Art of Doing Nothing
The importance of taking time off to "do nothing."

Making the Decision Later in Life
How to sustain taking time off and pursuing the PhD later in life.

Negotiation in Preparation for Children
How a supportive department and a modified teaching schedule allowed for maternity leave.

Not Going Straight Through: The Pros and Cons
Taking time off before pursuing her PhD.

Satisfaction through Accomplishment
Doing something useful to make a difference and how to appreciate a happy, supportive work environment.

Sources of Support
The importance of a supportive network of colleagues.

Special Characteristics of Your Advisor and Struggling with Life Balance Issues
Advisor's experiences encourage well-informed career decisions.

The Commuter Marriage
How to maintain a long-distance relationship.

Two Different Worlds: School Without Kids and Working with Kids
Being married in graduate school and having children as a faculty member.

Words of Advice for Students
The importance of supportive peer relationships.

Bringing the Child Along
How to balance motherhood responsibilities in graduate school.

Coming Full Circle
The process of overcoming setbacks related to career options and personal relationships.

Comments on Commuter Marriage
Notes the challenges of a dual career marriage and the obstacles in fighting for tenure and balancing a relationship.

Freeing Oneself from a Traditional Model as a Lifestyle Choice
How to accept non-traditional relationships and lifestyles in academia.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Dean
The importance of believing in yourself, admitting your mistakes, and continuing to do what you love.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Wiliams
Advises students to continue to pursue their education because the payoff is self-respect.

Perspective on Being a Single Woman
Explains some of the setbacks in dating relationships.

Promoting Yourself to Your Family
Advises how to keep family informed about research goals and progression from student to faculty member.

Realistic Balance of Resources: An Analogy
The importance of understanding priorities and allocating resources accordingly.

Supportive and Proud
Parental response to pursuing the PhD.

The Importance of Sharing Stories
The importance of hearing other people's stories.

You Can Do Both: Balancing School and Family
The feasibility of pursuing a family and science.



These video accounts capture unique characteristics of the male-dominated culture of science and engineering, and provide guidance on ways to cope and be assertive.

Awkward Social Interactions
The challenges of working in male-dominated academic environments and the negative stereotypes associated with women who have children.

Becoming an Independent Voice as a Young Faculty Member
The process of establishing yourself in the same department as your spouse.

Being Comfortable as a Woman Among Men
Emphasizes positive peer relationships within her cohort.

Being "Queen" of the Team
Playing a variety of roles as the only woman in the department.

Dealing with Inappropriate Events
Suggestions for how to deal with sexist comments.

Every Day is Different
Captures the versatility of an academic position.

Experience as an International Grad Student
Challenges of being international and female, particularly with regards to an academic career and the choice to have children.

Gender Bias in the US
The first realization that being a woman in science was outside the norm.

Help and Support from Other Administrators
How to seek support from administrators outside the department when dealing with departmental sexism.

Incidents of Prejudice Due to Married and Pregnant Status
Gender stereotypes faced in getting into graduate school and conducting research.

Is Being Socially Compatible Necessary?
Reminder that it is not necessary to feel comfortable socially to do good science.

It's the Little Things that Annoy You (Part 1)
The importance of picking your battles to avoid unfair labeling.

It's the Little Things that Annoy You (Part 2)
Captures the small but noticeable annoyances that come with being the only woman.

Lack of Women Role Models
The importance of sharing stories of sexual harassment with others and realizing that you are not alone.

On Speaking Up: A Conference Experience
Confronting a male colleague with contradictory findings at a conference.

Other Students Helping in the Transition
How colleagues can assist in making the transition into graduate life easier by sharing information an advisor may not.

Seeking Support Outside the Department
How to refute sexist comments and challenge gendered assumptions.

Sharing News of Pregnancy with Advisors
Departmental reactions to the choice to have children.

The Role of the Dean in Fostering Progress at the Institutional Level
The importance of a good leader in setting standards for diversity, climate, and tenure policies.

Ways to Cope with Minor Issues Related to Being a Woman
How to observe others' reactions to subtle comments in order to gauge an appropriate response.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Levitus
Urges students not to get wrapped into issues that do not directly involve them.

Creating an Environment for Exchanging Ideas
How the physical space in a laboratory allowed for collaboration among colleagues.

Creating Cohesion with Colleagues
Highlights an experience in which peers were not only colleagues, but also friends.

Gaining Strength from Adversity
Underscores the challenges that come from being the only woman in an academic department and gives suggestions on how to gain confidence and be assertive in these situations.

Planning Experiments Around Breast Feeding, Productivity, and Encouragement (Part 2)
Advice for accomplishing your academic goals without making unnecessary compromises.

I Have Not Figured Out How To Say "No"
Emphasizes the challenge of saying no, but the importance of learning to do so.

Climate in Graduate School
How to make friends with colleagues to encourage a supportive environment.

Contrasting Genders in the Sciences While Looking at Models of Learning
The importance of recognizing the progress that has been made by women in science fields.

Critical Mass
Captures the annoyance of male colleagues making sexist assumptions and the challenges with conference travel as a female graduate student.

Dealing with Impostor Syndrome
Class performance builds confidence to remain in program.

Distinguishing Customs and Roles in International Relations (Part 1)
Highlights the universal customs of science.

How to Have Sexual Harassment Policies
How to be upfront, direct, and assertive when confronting instances of sexual harassment.

Is the Effort Worth the Outcome?
Explains when to confront a problem and when it may be better to maneuver around it.

Jealousy and Field Work Romances
Cautions against inappropriate relationships.

Keep Looking for Faculty Support
The importance of finding the right advisor to support your research goals.

Pursuing Different Threads in Career Positions
Contributions to the field are reflected through choices.

Sexual Harassment: It's Not Just You
The importance of sharing stories of sexual harassment with others to gain support.

Standing Out as a Woman
An alternative way to approach being the only woman in a given situation.

The Good, the Bad, the "Only"
The pros and cons of being the only woman in a department and the importance of setting boundaries and knowing your own limitations.

The Importance of Having Positive Working Relationships: A Case Study
The importance of good working relationships and when it's worth putting forth effort.

The Opportunity to be a Jack of All Trades
The opportunity for freedom, growth, and collaboration as a faculty member.

The Residual Effects of Sexual Harassment
How to survive the aftermath of a sexual harassment incident.

The Transformation to Faculty
Highlights the gendered assumptions encountered as a faculty member.

Woman vs. The Man
Describes an incident of receiving a lower grade than a man for similar work.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Houston
The importance of remembering that graduate school is only one part of a larger career.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Lunardini
The importance of finding your own style.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Wadhwa
The importance of first impressions in choosing a graduate program.

Working with Intelligent People Across Cultures Makes It All Worth While
Satisfaction comes from interacting with intelligent people across cultures.

Hidden Differences in Academic Culture
Adjusting physical appearance to fit in with peers.

Hidden Differences in Academic Culture (Extended)
Environmental issues faced in academia.

Isolation and a Proactive Solution
Alternatives to departmental isolation and the importance of networking.

Oblivion is Bliss
How being unaware of being the only woman was advantageous to program success.

Possible and Impossible Selves
The importance of self-authorship and using graduate school as a process for self-definition.

Stories of Support: From Deans to Children
Reminder that support can be found in unexpected places.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Camacho
Urges female graduate students to persist in the field of mathematics because the field needs diversity.

Dealing with Assumptions and Accusations (Short Version)
Being accused of cheating and regrets about not being more assertive.

Dealing with Assumptions and Accusations
Being accused of cheating and regrets about not being more assertive.

Observations on Women's Safety (Part 1)
Discusses necessary precautions to take as a female student working late nights on campus.

Observations on Women's Safety (Part 2)
Discusses necessary precautions to take as a female student working late nights on campus.

Stressors, Sex, and Sexism: A Wrongfully Assumed Affair
How to handle being accused of having an affair with the advisor.

The Joy of Making an Impact
Explains an interdisciplinary branch of physics and the passion for research, service, and teaching.

Time in the Classroom is at the Heart of Motivation
Teaching as the impetus for work.

We Were Not Always Best Friends
Emphasizes peer relationships and departmental climate.

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Chattopadhyay
Advice for graduate students on how to maintain their confidence, courage, and dignity.

Working with Students
Working with graduate students is a rewarding aspect of being a faculty member.



These stories call attention to graduate student’s setbacks in being productive and making timely progress towards their degree. They also offer counsel on how to balance school, family, and fun while in graduate school.

Non-Progress Is Still Progress
The importance of peer relationships and the learning process that takes place despite concrete outcomes.

Reflecting on "Why" and "How"
The importance of giving yourself credit and remembering why you are doing what you're doing.

Best Laid Plans
How to negotiate a schedule for raising a family and overcoming setbacks in a new career.

How Do You Know When You're Ready?
The importance of learning from failed experiments.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Andino
Advice for students: stay focused, ask questions, and remain open-minded when working with others.

Proactive Approach and Adapting Environments
How to adapt experimental methods to match a lifestyle.

The Stress of the Last Year
Advice for balancing research and fun in graduate school.

Thwarting Thoughts of Quitting
The importance of goal setting and using others' experiences to make strong choices about your own path.

An Example of How to Negotiate (Part 2)
Strategies for negotiating as a faculty member.

To Post-Doc or Not to Post-Doc
When it's time to graduate and when it's important to start learning on the job.

Undergrad Science vs. Real Life Science
Highlights the transition into graduate level science where the answers aren't known.

Undergrad Science vs. Real Life Science (Part 2)
The importance of learning from your effort, regardless of the outcome.

Distinguishing Customs and Roles in International Relations (Part 2)
Elaborates on the standard practice of science despite cultural differences.

Take-Home Words: Dr. Powers
Advice on how to seek out support in graduate school and how to bounce back from setbacks.

The Thrill of Discovery
Shares the excitement that comes from collaborating with others to make new discoveries.

Words of Wisdom: Dr. Powers
The importance of learning from mistakes and persisting despite setbacks.