On Balancing A Blog, Career, and Motherhood

Lately a lot of readers have been asking why I’m not posting here as often. The truth is, a lot has changed professionally and personally since I began in 2006. I’m working hard to strike a balance between career obligations, family, and life on- and offline.

When I composed my first blog post, I was living as a policy staffer in DC. Hours on the Hill were long, but I enjoyed getting my thoughts about the convergence of science, policy, and culture down at the end of each day. Blogging felt cathartic and I did my best writing very late into the night–the same schedule I kept while composing my thesis during grad school. Sure I had a full-time job, but I was single, living in the city, with boundless energy and relatively few commitments.

By the following year, I started taking my role in the science online community more seriously. I joined Chris Mooney at Scienceblogs where we posted every day. There were far fewer science bloggers at the time and we all knew–or knew of–each other, participating in a kind of ongoing conversation. My online contributions not only helped me organize my thoughts, but also provided an informal education about journalism, leading to books about the role of science in our culture. I started writing regular articles and giving talks, while trying to include some sort of social life along the way.

By early 2012, I was traveling every week–sometimes for weeks at a time–and wading into my newest role as director of the Energy Poll at The University of Texas at Austin. I’m also married now, with a newborn baby boy.

In other words, we grow and change. Being at the helm of university project takes a lot of planning, analysis, and time. And as for those late-nights writing until 4am? These days, motherhood has me ready for bed by 9pm. I still continue to travel regularly for book talks and job obligations. In fact, with our upcoming energy poll release focused on voting behavior, it will continue to be a whirlwind up to the election. So right now I’m working hard at balancing career, parenting, and contributing to the online science community.

We hear a lot about whether women can–or should try to–”have it all.” I suspect the answer is quite nuanced. We can do different things very well at different times in our lives as we change. With every passing year, I’m learning more about myself and figuring out what works for me.

Be assured Culture of Science will continue. This blog has been through five incarnations at various networks over six years. You might even say I’m a veteran in the community at this point. So yes, I will keep posting when I have meaningful ideas to contribute. And always know I’m glad to have you along on the journey.


  1. The most important piece of advice I ever received as a young academic is that it’s your entire career contribution that matters, not what you achieve in any given month or year. I think the same is true of bloggers, authors, etc. So when you’re juggling a young family, it doesn’t matter if other stuff slows down – your priorities change, and if you’re clear about this to yourself, then other people will respect that too. I think that both men and women can “have it all”, but not all at once, at full throttle. I really wish more people (both men and women) would be willing to slow down their workload when they have kids, and make that the cultural expectation.

    Oh, and when baby arrives: treasure every moment, because they grow up waaaay too fast.

    1. Thanks Steve, and good advice – on both counts 🙂

  2. This above all: to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man.

    (or woman.)

    To me, it’s the only personal advice I’ve ever needed.

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