Yesterday, an online friend became a face to face friend…
Several years ago we were part of a private group blog that was pretty much a support group for female dissertators… there were originally seven of us, two dropped out pretty quickly — for most of the time there were five of us.
We met because we read one another’s blogs — we were geographically diverse and from a wide variety of disciplines. We shared ups and downs and when something really good or bad happened, I know they were the ones I wanted to tell about it. It was great to have four other women in similar situations tell you honestly what they thought — as well as discussing their challenges.
The key to it was the private blog — we could discuss our challenges openly without fear that our classmates, advisors or potential colleagues would find out. I think the fact that we needed the help of online friends says more about the grad-school experience, and perhaps the experience of women in grad school than anything. You’d think we could go to our classmates for that kind of support, but what they don’t tell you is that even in programs that discourage competition among grad students, competition in grad school is a fact of life. There is only so much money for assistantships and there are only so many jobs posted every year. Our faculty only has so much time to help us out — and it’s hard to know who is bending whose ear and making you sound weak.
We’ve drifted apart, but as of today, out of the five of us, four are now Ph.Ds — and the fifth is still working on her research last I knew.