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


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

  • The Challenge

    The selfish satisfaction of "I did it" as motivation to persist despite obstacles.

  • Jennie Si, PhD: Process of a Day

    Explains that satisfaction comes from working with students and the opportunity to make new discoveries.

  • Jennifer Barton, PhD: It's All About You
    Emphasizes the joy of being a faculty member.
  • Lynda B. Williams, PhD: You Can Do Both: Balancing School and Family
    The feasibility of pursuing a family and science.
  • Veronica Burrows, PhD: The Importance of Sharing Stories
    The importance of hearing other people's stories.
  • Donna Dean, PhD: Supportive and Proud
    Parental response to pursuing the PhD.
  • Jennifer Barton, PhD: Realistic Balance of Resources: An Analogy
    The importance of understanding priorities and allocating resources accordingly.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: Promoting Yourself to Your Family
    Advises how to keep family informed about research goals and progression from student to faculty member.
  • Jean Andino, PhD: Perspective on Being a Single Woman
    Explains some of the setbacks in dating relationships.
  • Lynda B. Williams, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Wiliams
    Advises students to continue to pursue their education because the payoff is self-respect.
  • Donna Dean, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Dean
    The importance of believing in yourself, admitting your mistakes, and continuing to do what you love.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: Freeing Oneself from a Traditional Model as a Lifestyle Choice
    How to accept non-traditional relationships and lifestyles in academia.
  • Aditi Chattopadhyay, PhD: Comments on Commuter Marriage
    Notes the challenges of a dual career marriage and the obstacles in fighting for tenure and balancing a relationship.
  • Lynda B. Williams, PhD: Coming Full Circle
    The process of overcoming setbacks related to career options and personal relationships.
  • Indira Nair, PhD: Bringing the Child Along
    How to balance motherhood responsibilities in graduate school.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Words of Advice for Students
    The importance of supportive peer relationships.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Two Different Worlds: School Without Kids and Working with Kids
    Being married in graduate school and having children as a faculty member.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: The Commuter Marriage
    How to maintain a long-distance relationship.
  • Meenakshi Wadhwa, PhD: Special Characteristics of Your Advisor and Struggling with Life Balance Issues
    Advisor's experiences encourage well-informed career decisions.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Sources of Support
    The importance of a supportive network of colleagues.
  • Su Lin, PhD: Satisfaction through Accomplishment
    Doing something useful to make a difference and how to appreciate a happy, supportive work environment.
  • Lynda B. Williams, PhD: Not Going Straight Through: The Pros and Cons
    Taking time off before pursuing her PhD.
  • Jennie Si, PhD: Negotiation in Preparation for Children
    How a supportive department and a modified teaching schedule allowed for maternity leave.
  • Lynda B. Williams, PhD: Making the Decision Later in Life
    How to sustain taking time off and pursuing the PhD later in life.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: Leisure Activities: The Art of Doing Nothing
    Advises how to keep family informed about research goals and progression from student to faculty member.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Leisure Activities: Dr. Anderson-Rowland
    Ways to spend leisure time.
  • Su Lin, PhD: 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.
  • Veronica Burrows, PhD: How Do You Build Resiliency?
    The importance of having a number of things in your life that bring you joy and satisfaction.
  • Su Lin, PhD: Dual Career Decisions
    Relationship sacrifices made for career decisions.
  • Indira Nair, PhD: Give Yourself Credit
    Understanding your strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately giving yourself recognition for your successes.
  • Jennie Si, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Si
    The importance of learning over time and remaining positive in the face of criticism.
  • Jean Andino, PhD: Practical Satisfaction
    Motivation for doing work: interacting with students and doing research that can make a difference in the world.
  • Petra Fromme, PhD: I Have Not Figured Out How to Say "No"
    Emphasizes the challenge with saying no, but the importance of learning to do so.
  • Jennifer Barton, PhD: Adoption as an Option
    The decision to adopt a child after graduate school.
  • Sue Rosser, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Rosser
    The importance of remaining passionate and remembering that the PhD opens doors.
  • Su Lin, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Lin
    How to seek support and not be shy in asking for help.
  • Petra Fromme, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Fromme
    The importance of defining clear goals, remaining self-confident, and learning to say no.
  • Veronica Burrows, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Burrows
    The importance of allowing yourself the opportunity to change your mind and reconsider your goals.
  • Jennifer Barton, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Barton
    The importance of knowing what you want and expecting tradeoffs on the path to get it.
  • Sue Rosser, PhD: Time Management Profile
    Outlines a philosophy on time management.
  • Petra Fromme, PhD: Satisfaction
    Making discoveries and collaborating with others brings satisfaction.
  • Petra Fromme, PhD: Planning Experiments Around Breast Feeding, Productivity, and Encouragement (Part 1)
    Creating a schedule and meeting an advisor's expectations.
  • Aditi Chattopadhyay, PhD: 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.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Looking Back on Raising Kids While Working
    Explains the role children play in career choices.
  • Lynda B. Williams, PhD: Leisure Activities
    Using leisure activities to relieve stress and build friendships.
  • Veronica Burrows, PhD: Interpersonal Satisfaction
    The satisfaction that comes from working with colleagues and interacting with others.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Getting Married During Graduate School
    The decision to get married in graduate school.
  • Veronica Burrows, PhD: Finding Balance While Pregnant, Moving a Lab, and Negotiating Leave
    The importance of maintaining a balanced lifestyle to alleviate stress.
  • Sally Mason, PhD: Compromises Outside the Realm of Children
    Addresses personal relationship sacrifices.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: A Virtual Support System (Long Distance)
    The importance of nurturing relationships outside of academia.
  • Sue Rosser, PhD: The Upside to Children Prior to a Tenure Track Position
    Explains the choice to have children in graduate school.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: The Two Body Problem
    Challenges with being married to a fellow academician and finding faculty positions.
  • Jean Andino, PhD: Stress from Conflict in a Dating Relationship
    Elaborates on a dating situation.
  • Sandra Houston, PhD: 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.
  • Petra Fromme, PhD: Life is More than Research
    The importance of evaluating your priorities to create balance and happiness.
  • Meenakshi Wadhwa, PhD: International Graduate Experience
    Appreciation for advisor's assistance in transitioning to the US.
  • Sally Mason, PhD: Fun, Passion, and Collaboration
    Emphasizes the joy in working with others and giving back to society.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Doing More Than I Could Have Imagined
    Chronicles the evolution of a career over time.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: 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.


These stories call attention to graduate student’s setbacks in being productive and making timely progress towards their degree.

  • Linda Powers, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Powers
    The importance of learning from mistakes and persisting despite setbacks.
  • Marcia Levitus, PhD: Undergrad Science vs. Real Life Science (Part 2)
    The importance of learning from your effort, regardless of the outcome.
  • Linda Powers, PhD: Distinguishing Customs and Roles in International Relations (Part 2)
    Elaborates on the standard practice of science despite cultural differences.
  • Linda Powers, PhD: Take-Home Words: Dr. Powers
    Advice on how to seek out support in graduate school and how to bounce back from setbacks.
  • Linda Powers, PhD: The Thrill of Discovery
    Shares the excitement that comes from collaborating with others to make new discoveries.
  • Jennie Si, PhD: 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.
  • Marcia Levitus, PhD: Undergrad Science vs. Real Life Science
    Highlights the transition into graduate level science where the answers aren't known.
  • Jean Andino, PhD: An Example of How to Negotiate (Part 2)
    Strategies for negotiating as a faculty member.
  • Meenakshi Wadhwa, PhD: The Stress of the Last Year
    Advice for balancing research and fun in graduate school.
  • Jennie Si, PhD: Thwarting Thoughts of Quitting
    The importance of goal setting and using others' experiences to make strong choices about your own path.
  • Su Lin, PhD: How Do You Know When You're Ready?
    The importance of learning from failed experiments.
  • Jean Andino, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Andino
    Advice for students: stay focused, ask questions, and remain open-minded when working with others.
  • Petra Fromme, PhD: Proactive Approach and Adapting Environments
    How to adapt experimental methods to match a lifestyle.
  • Sandra Houston, PhD: Non-Progress Is Still Progress
    The importance of peer relationships and the learning process that takes place despite concrete outcomes.
  • Sandra Houston, PhD: Reflecting on "Why" and "How"
    The importance of giving yourself credit and remembering why you are doing what you're doing.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Best Laid Plans
    How to negotiate a schedule for raising a family and overcoming setbacks in a new career.


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

  • Aditi Chattopadhyay, PhD: Words of Wisdom from Dr. Chattopadhyay
    Advice for graduate students on how to maintain their confidence, courage, and dignity.
  • Aditi Chattopadhyay, PhD: Working with Students
    Working with graduate students is a rewarding aspect of being a faculty member.
  • Jennifer Barton, PhD: We Were Not Always Best Friends
    Emphasizes peer relationships and departmental climate.
  • Lynda B. Williams, PhD: Stressors, Sex, and Sexism: A Wrongfully Assumed Affair
    How to handle being accused of having an affair with the advisor.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: The Joy of Making an Impact
    Explains an interdisciplinary branch of physics and the passion for research, service, and teaching.
  • Indira Nair, PhD: Time in the Classroom is at the Heart of Motivation
    Teaching as the impetus for work.
  • Erika Camacho, PhD: Dealing with Assumptions and Accusations
    Being accused of cheating and regrets about not being more assertive.
  • Jennifer Barton, PhD: Observations on Women's Safety (Part 1)
    Discusses necessary precautions to take as a female student working late nights on campus.
  • Jennifer Barton, PhD: Observations on Women's Safety (Part 2)
    Discusses necessary precautions to take as a female student working late nights on campus.
  • Erika Camacho, PhD: Being accused of cheating and regrets about not being more assertive.
    Being accused of cheating and regrets about not being more assertive.
  • Indira Nair, PhD: Possible and Impossible Selves
    The importance of self-authorship and using graduate school as a process for self-definition.
  • Sue Rosser, PhD: Stories of Support: From Deans to Children
    Reminder that support can be found in unexpected places.
  • Erika Camacho, PhD: Words of Wisdom
    Urges female graduate students to persist in the field of mathematics because the field needs diversity.
  • Erika Camacho, PhD: Hidden Differences in Academic Culture (Extended)
    Environmental issues faced in academia.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: Isolation and a Proactive Solution
    Alternatives to departmental isolation and the importance of networking.
  • Jennifer Barton, PhD: Oblivion is Bliss
    How being unaware of being the only woman was advantageous to program success.
  • Meenakshi Wadhwa, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Wadhwa
    The importance of first impressions in choosing a graduate program.
  • Sandra Houston, PhD: Working with Intelligent People Across Cultures Makes It All Worthwhile
    Satisfaction comes from interacting with intelligent people across cultures.
  • Erika Camacho, PhD: Hidden Differences in Academic Culture
    Adjusting physical appearance to fit in with peers.
  • Donna Dean, PhD: Woman vs. The Man
    Describes an incident of receiving a lower grade than a man for similar work.
  • Sandra Houston, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Houston
    The importance of remembering that graduate school is only one part of a larger career.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Lunardini
    The importance of finding your own style.
  • Sally Mason, PhD: The Transformation to Faculty
    Highlights the gendered assumptions encountered as a faculty member.
  • Erika Camacho, PhD: The Opportunity to be a Jack of All Trades
    The opportunity for freedom, growth, and collaboration as a faculty member.
  • Donna Dean, PhD: The Residual Effects of Sexual Harassment
    How to survive the aftermath of a sexual harassment incident.
  • Donna Dean, PhD: Standing Out as a Woman
    An alternative way to approach being the only woman in a given situation.
  • Jean Andino, PhD: The Good, the Bad, the "Only"
    The Good, the Bad, the "Only"
  • Veronica Burrows, PhD: The Importance of Having Positive Working Relationships: A Case Study
    The Importance of Having Positive Working Relationships: A Case Study
  • Sandra Houston, PhD: Sexual Harassment: It's Not Just You
    The importance of sharing stories of sexual harassment with others to gain support.
  • Sue Rosser, PhD: Pursuing Different Threads in Career Positions
    Contributions to the field are reflected through choices.
  • Linda Powers, PhD: Is the Effort Worth the Outcome?
    Explains when to confront a problem and when it may be better to maneuver around it.
  • Lynda B. Williams, PhD: Stressors, Sex, and Sexism: A Wrongfully Assumed Affair
    How to handle being accused of having an affair with the advisor.
  • Sandra Houston, PhD: Keep Looking for Faculty Support
    The importance of finding the right advisor to support your research goals.
  • Donna Dean, PhD: How to Have Sexual Harassment Policies
    How to be upfront, direct, and assertive when confronting instances of sexual harassment.
  • Linda Powers, PhD: Distinguishing Customs and Roles in International Relations (Part 1)
    Highlights the universal customs of science.
  • Indira Nair, PhD: 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.
  • Veronica Burrows, PhD: Critical Mass
    Captures the annoyance of male colleagues making sexist assumptions and the challenges with conference travel as a female graduate student.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Dealing with Impostor Syndrome
    Class performance builds confidence to remain in program.
  • Petra Fromme, PhD: Planning Experiments Around Breast Feeding, Productivity, and Encouragement (Part 2)
    Advice for accomplishing your academic goals without making unnecessary compromises.
  • Petra Fromme, PhD: I have Not Figured Out How to Say "No"
    Emphasizes the challenge with saying no, but the importance of learning to do so.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Climate in Graduate School
    How to make friends with colleagues to encourage a supportive environment.
  • Aditi Chattopadhyay, PhD: 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 the
  • Meenakshi Wadhwa, PhD: Creating an Environment for Exchanging Ideas
    How the physical space in a laboratory allowed for collaboration among colleagues.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: Creating Cohesion with Colleagues
    Highlights an experience in which peers were not only colleagues, but also friends.
  • Sue Rosser, PhD: 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.
  • Veronica Burrows, PhD: 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.
  • Marcia Levitus, PhD: Words of Wisdom: Dr. Levitus
    Urges students not to get wrapped into issues that do not directly involve them.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Sharing News of Pregnancy with Advisors
    Departmental reactions to the choice to have children.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Seeking Support Outside the Department
    How to refute sexist comments and challenge gendered assumptions.
  • Sue Rosser, PhD: Lack of Women Role Models
    The importance of sharing stories of sexual harassment with others and realizing that you are not alone.
  • Petra Fromme, PhD: On Speaking Up: A Conference Experience
    Confronting a male colleague with contradictory findings at a conference.
  • Meenakshi Wadhwa, PhD: 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.
  • Veronica Burrows, PhD: It's the Little Things that Annoy You (Part 1)
    The importance of picking your battles to avoid unfair labeling.
  • Veronica Burrows, PhD: It's the Little Things that Annoy You (Part 2)
    Captures the small but noticeable annoyances that come with being the only woman.
  • Marcia Levitus, PhD: Is Being Socially Compatible Necessary?
    Reminder that it is not necessary to feel comfortable socially to do good science.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Help and Support from Other Administrators
    How to seek support from administrators outside the department when dealing with departmental sexism.
  • Sue Rosser, PhD: Incidents of Prejudice Due to Married and Pregnant Status
    Gender stereotypes faced in getting into graduate school and conducting research.
  • Meenakshi Wadhwa, PhD: Every Day is Different
    Captures the versatility of an academic position.
  • Jennie Si, PhD: 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.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: Gender Bias in the U.S.
    The first realization that being a woman in science was outside the norm.
  • Sandra Houston, PhD: Dealing with Inappropriate Events
    Suggestions for how to deal with sexist comments.
  • Su Lin, PhD: Being "Queen" of the Team
    Playing a variety of roles as the only woman in the department.
  • Sandra Houston, PhD: Becoming an Independent Voice as a Young Faculty Member
    The process of establishing yourself in the same department as your spouse.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Being Comfortable as a Woman Among Men
    Emphasizes positive peer relationships within her cohort.
  • Erika Camacho, PhD: Awkward Social Interactions
    The challenges of working in male-dominated academic environments and the negative stereotypes associated with women who have children.

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 adv

  • Lynda B. Williams, PhD: Key Elements in Good Advising
    The importance of being open and honest with your advisor.
  • Jennifer Barton, PhD: Advisor Issues
    How a positive advisor challenged his students to think for themselves.
  • Aditi Chattopadhyay, PhD: 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.
  • Lynda B. Williams, PhD: Separate Advisors and Mentors
    The importance of having a variety of mentors throughout your graduate experience.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: Persuading an Advisor
    Suggestions for defining research.
  • Cecilia Lunardini, PhD: Developing a Scientific Identity in an Advisor's Shadow
    Challenges faced with establishing yourself as an independent researcher separate from an influential advisor.
  • Donna Dean, PhD: Seeking New Information
    The importance of asking questions and searching for creative solutions to new problems.
  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: Words of Wisdom
    The importance of finding a good advisor and making sure to get everything in writing.
  • Erika Camacho, PhD: We're Having a Baby
    Challenges in confronting the advisor with news of pregnancy.
  • Donna Dean, PhD: Trade Offs and Choices

    The tradeoffs and choices of graduate life.

  • Sue Rosser, PhD: Pros and Cons of an International Advisor
    Experiences with an international advisor.
  • Sue Rosser, PhD: Options for Support
    Urges students to seek multiple campus resources for support.
  • Lynda B. Williams, PhD: 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.

  • Mary Anderson-Rowland, PhD: 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.