Doing the Un-doable

National Blog Posting Month – January 2014 – Pressure

Prompt – Marge Piercy said: “A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not be done.” Tell us about a time when you did what couldn’t be done.


I think most of my ‘that can’t be done’ moments have taken place in the laboratory.

You can’t change a filament in the morning and run analyses that same afternoon. Only that I did.

You can’t run bioapatites on a Gasbench and get repeatable, reliable results. Only that I do routinely.

I know that all that up there is rather jargon-y. I’m sorry. Maybe I should novelize these things – only that it’d be a really dull novel.

But the exercise of just thinking about this prompt does make me realize one thing, and maybe it’s the biggest ‘can’t be done’ thing that I’ve ever done.

I’m a woman. And I run a highly technical laboratory at a high-falutin’ research university.

I turn all the knobs. I do all the chemistry. I change all the gas cylinders. I fix all the things that need fixing.

I’m a full-blown, Ph.D. totin’ scientist.

And I’m a woman, and a mother.

I’m fortunate. No one ever told me that women don’t do these things. It’s just what I wanted to do, so I did.

I’m not unique. There are other women in similar positions. There’s actually quite a few of us. Nevertheless, it’s still a male-dominated pursuit, having a Ph.D., making a career of science, and keeping a half-million dollar laboratory running.

But I did it. Why not? I wanted to.

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