University of Washington – Seattle hosts the Women in Science and Engineering conference every year around February-March window. I have attended it twice in the past and have learned how it benefits the community. This year, the conference was held on March 03, 2018. I led a roundtable lunch discussion on graduate school, and organized a panel with a friend, Miriam Hacker, from Mechanical Engineering titled “Navigating the Balancing Act of Priorities and Time”.
I had some amazing folks join me on the panel – Catherine Yonkofski (Pacific Northwest National Lab), Ardelia Clarke (Pacific Northwest National Lab), Jessica Tran (Microsoft), Silvia Doomra (Amazon), and Andrew Vamos (University of Washington) with Miriam Hacker (University of Washington) as our moderator. It was an honest conversation about being graduate students and working professionals with a lot of opportunities, stress to perform for maximal output, and rejection at some stages. We talked about ways that have worked for us to meet our goals and what is important to ensure a healthy approach to research. This includes, and is not limited to, allocating time for friends and family, for physical and mental well-being and learning to ask for help or to say No.
We worked on explaining why we did not believe in the overused “Work-Life Balance” approach but instead looked at working on priorities at a given time. I believe this is a better strategy for solving problems than struggling to hold a rigid timesheet for balancing our lives.