G.A.I.N. Writing Retreat, July 29-August 13, 2007
Connors Family Retreat Center, Dover, MA
In attendance at the August ’07 Writing Retreat
Pictured left to right:
Bottom row: Audeliz Matias (Skidmore College), Donna Jurdy (Northwestern), Mary Anne Holmes (Univ. of Nebraska), Annelie Skoog (University of Connecticut, Avery Point), Zoe Hughes (Boston University).
Middle Row: Ann Pearson (Harvard University), Haydee Salmun (Hunter College), Kathleen M. Browne (Rider College), Laurie Brown (Univ. of Massachusetts), Sandra Passchier (Montclair State University)
Top Row: Britt Argow (Wellesley College), Kelly Cook (Cornell University) Suzanne O’Connell (Wesleyan University), Cindy Lee (SUNY Stony Brook)Missing: Darcy Boellstorff (Bridgewater State College) , Sheila J. Seaman (Univ. of Massachusetts), Andrea Molod (MIT)
|Summary of Project GAIN Post-Conference Evaluations:
||Avg. Score (out of 5)
|I met colleagues who I didn't previously know and with whom I will now develop a closer professional relationship.
|The length of the retreat was appropriate for the accomplishment of my networking goals.
|The length of the retreat was appropriate for the accomplishment of my writing goals.
|The retreat should be longer in length.
|The retreat should be shorter in length.
|It was important to the goals of the retreat that participants were expected to stay for the entire length.
|The number of participants was an appropriate amount.
|I would be interested in attending future writing retreats.
|I would still be willing to attend the retreat if there was a nominal fee (e.g. $100).
First Writing Retreat Survey Responses
1. How did this writing retreat meet your expectations?
- My #1 goal was to finish or be close to finish a manuscript and I'm really close to finishing it.
- It exceeded my expectations. Not only were the planned workshops and discussions useful, the informal interactions provided a wealth of information.
- My expectations were fully met.
- Yes! There was considerable time to focus writing and good colleagues to interact with who were supportive, smart and really interesting to get to know. It is energizing to interact with other women geoscientists for reasons that are challenging to explain. Knowing about the challenges others have faced is really important, and at times very eye opening.
- Time and space to write. Informal time to meet women in all different career stages. Guidance from speakers about writing/networking.
- Time away from work and home interruptions.
- It was really great and I would very much like to attend additional retreats.
- It provided me with good blocks of time to write. It provided a comfortable place in terms of a beautiful, pastoral setting, and a collegial atmosphere.
- There was plenty of time to work on my writing project and the environment to be productive.
- In providing the opportunity to meet and share with other women geosciencetist--an incredible group of women by any measure. There was also enough time for uninterrupted writing and thinking in a supportive environment.
- Gave my time to write, great company and some help.
- Great! I got several projects done that had been sitting around for a long time. It was a great opportunity.
- Yes, I was able to work with ____ on her paper. (I only wish these sort of retreats were available when I was starting out.)
- It went beyond meeting them. I learned much more than I expected. The writing coach was very helpful both concerning sentence/paragraph structuring and time management. I also learned a lot about how I work (+ my failings) and how to improve on it.
- My main expectation or hope for the retreat was to meet other geoscientists in the area and possibly others who are doing similar work. I had a great time meeting the other women so that part of my expectation was definitely and very happily met. I realize it's difficult to find people doing work close to one's own so I understand the difficulty and having that part of my expectations met would've been icing on the cake.
2. Were you able to meet your networking goals?
- Absolutely. It's good to know that I'm not along, there are more women like myself here in the Northeast.
- Absolutely. Perhaps a slightly larger group it would have been even better.
- Yes, I was.
- My goals were very simple, so yes!
- Yes, everyone was open to helping/sharing/reaching out.
- Not especially--maybe try harder to recruit senior women from RI Institutions.
- Not quite.
- To be honest, I had none. I only wanted time and place to get work done. However, I certainly benefited from the networking opportunities and discussion.
- Yes, I met a number of interesting women and made connection that may develop.
- Yes--mostly. I think a few more people might have been OK, though.
- I didn't have any networking goals. As a senior person in my field, I know too many people to keep up with as it is. I did however spend time with the two young marine chemists who attended the conference.
- Very good.
- I didn't even know I was networking ineffectively until I went to the retreat. The networking presentation taught me a number of new techniques. It highlighted what I'd been missing. In terms of networking within this group it went very well.
- I think that as I met the other attendees, I realized more and more how diverse we all are in our fields of research and also teaching. We each have our own particular areas of focus and are so specialized, like we need to be, that it can be difficult to make connections pertaining specifically to our work. That said, I did feel my interactions with others were mutually very sincere and that these connections could definitely be beneficial in the future in ways we might not be able to see right now. For that, I know I have met a new set of professional colleagues that I could probably communicate with regarding different professional issues in the future.
3. What contributed to meeting/not meeting your networking goals?
- I think the unstructured time and eating together helped me network, because I was able to interact with the rest of the group "freely".
- The size of the groups and the variety of levels of experience.
- The atmosphere of openness, collegiality. The mix of structured/un-structured activities, the time period (one week) and spending the right time with others.
- Supportive non-threatening environment. General acknowledgement that our primary efforts are simply hard for most people, writing is hard. (Why is that?!)
- The atmosphere made it 'acceptable' to be 'pushy'. No air of 'are you good enough to merit attention!"
- There were too few scientists within my field. (Geochemistry)
- Good friendly atmosphere and networking workshop contributed positively. (Note: THANK YOU!! I've appreciated this opportunity so much. I've heard a few people remark that a day fewer would have been better preferable for them. NOT FOR ME! I wish it could have been longer if anything.!)
- Good opportunity to mix and mingle. Meal time was especially good for this.
- I thought it was very useful having the first talk, Sunday evening, about networking, and the tone was set in that talk (that networking is constructive and positive--not a chance to "use" someone) was formative.
- Meetings--common meals were key.
- A small informal atmosphere, having meals together.
- The networking coach (Who knew!--You actually have to follow up with people you make initial contact with). I was also lucky that the other attendees were great people and that made it easier to connect with them.
- The meetings we had with the writing specialist and program evaluator from Wesleyan were especially good for giving us the opportunity to come together and talk about common experiences. It was great speaking with Laurie Brown from Amherst about her career and accomplishments. It was interesting to hear that she currently has some of the same concerns and issues I struggle with right now. We heard a great talk from someone from AWIS in the first evening about networking--I remember how she mentioned how relationships take time. I hope to keep in touch with the women I met.
4. What contributed to meeting/not meeting your writing goals?
- Having uninterrupted blocks of time to work on my writing, away from distractions.
- To be able to concentrate on writing at blocks of several hours at the time. The fixed meals gave me sort of "deadlines" and made it easier to produce text.
- Having time (uninterrupted) and having my collaborator with me.
- Mostly met them. I had two papers in mind and was hopeful I'd get through one and start another. As of after dinner Thursday, I'm still working on the first but I am very close.
- Time that was unstructured. Could write without 'missing something!'
- Mostly excellent experience, with real productivity.
- My writing goals were met by the amount of time for writing, but I would have liked to have more writing instruction specifically science writing.
- The strongest contributions was simply having long blocks of time with no distractions well, some phone calls had to be made and emails sent, but it's so much better than the ridiculous obligations of normal life!
- My writing goals were quite "Pie-in-the-sky" so I am not surprised I did not fully meet them. But, as one colleague pointed out, I got much more done than if I had not come!
- My writing goals were met well. The only small problem was the heat, which was challenging some days.
- Meeting--dedicated time to write, few distractions, not having to cook.
- Not met--my own procrastination prowess, I had not been realistic about my goals.
- The large periods of uninterrupted time were invaluable. The several workshops were useful and did not detract from the writing time--instead they reinvigorated.
- Having blocks of time, undisturbed.
- Only my own ability to loose focus and get distracted easily. And I got to a point in my writing where I had to go back to the data so had to stop writing!
- I had been working on a manuscript this summer and during the time of the retreat I was at a point where I needed to step back from it some. The timing not being the best was more to do with my own planning. The good thing was that the writing specialist from Wesleyan was able to give me some feedback on the draft and toward the end of the retreat I did some major editing.
5. How has your experience at this retreat changed your writing process?
- Absolutely. I'm paying more attention to where the subject is on my sentences, especially long ones. I learned that is "okay" to get blocked and I should not get frustrated.
- I am going to write in blocks of 2-3 hours. I have discovered this works best for me. I should also think about providing a place for myself where I can write in peace. My office is next to the secretary's and too many people come in and start talking to me,. Here it worked much better.
- Made me reevaluate some habits and renewed my determination to try ways to structure the time for writing.
- Probably not. I did get some good 'tips' from Anne Greene, the writing coach.
- Hope it will change it. Will try to "be writing something" as a constant activity.
- Not at all.
- It has somewhat changed the ideas of which words to use and what is an appropriate way to create flow within a paragraph. Most ideas came from fellow participants.
- I'm not sure that it's changed my writing process. I know that I need chunks of time which to write, and this retreat provided that…Thank you!!
- Yes, well, I hope so! I learned a number of tricks and techniques to try to help my writing. Was able to be somewhat retrospective about my writing 'problems'.
- I am now better able to work through blocks, by stepping back from the writing and thinking through the problem nonlinearly (since writing tends to be linear).
- I learned that even with protected time to write I will still fidget with figures for days before getting down to it. I must learn when to leave off and commit words to the page".
- I'm going to make more uninterrupted times free for writing.
- Actually having Anne be so positive about my writing has made me more confident.
- I am more confident in my technical writing abilities through praise from the writing coach. I am more aware of how I need to manage my time too ensure I actually write. And I am feeling more confident about the science I am writing because of the interactions I have had with other attendees.
- Some of the tips that the writing coach gave us were extremely useful to me and I know will stick with me and therefore become a part of my writing process. It was good to just to hear others talk about their own struggles with writing. I don't feel so much like I'm the only one.
6. Will you be incorporating any other methods/ideas from the training later on in this semester? Which?
- Certainly. Keeping in touch with women net during meeting.
- Lunch/coffee networking. Writing schedule 1 hour per day.
- The editing skills taught by Anne Greene were very helpful. I am going to use these to modify the text later this month. I am planning to call my NJF program managers to be on a review panel. Some of the senior faculty were suggesting that. I learned about certain teaching methods that I am going to experiment with in my next freshman class.
- I will try working everyday (even if only a sentence!) Try writing 'the paper' even before the work is done.
- Hopefully I will block out time more often so that I can make more progress with various writing projects at each sitting.
- Maybe--I'm looking forward to the 20 min/day writing test. Also, the focus on writing style. (Anne Greene) was by far the best program element.. Joanne from AWIS was also amazing for her networking advice.
- Specific ways of structuring paragraphs will be used in my own writing and I will also pass these ideas on to my grad students.
- I will try more to use the idea of explaining a paper to somebody else before trying to write it.
- Probably, although I am not sure which ones at the moment.
- Yes--being sure to write every day, and use small amounts of time effectively.
- Yes--1. Start with "final" figures (i.e. no messing with them) and just write. 2. Write in the "wrong voice" to get started.
- Some of the information from Anne Greene's talk will be useful in the Scientific Communication class I teach.
- I teach a writing course, so I can use ideas about editing and revising to discuss with students!
- ABSOLUTELY! Hour writing sessions everyday, sentence structuring to emphasize subjects. Following up with my contacts when I network.
- Perhaps I'll use some of the ideas from the program evaluator's survey at some point if I'm involved in workshop or retreat development in the future.
7. What number of participants would be too few?
- 10, 15, 10, 12, 10, 15, 10, 10, 15, 15, 10, 5, less than 10, 10. (More would be better.)
- In terms of just being somewhere & given the gift of time--it doesn't matter how many or few.
- Too many? 30, 40, over 35, 30, 40, 35, 50, 30, 50, 30, 30, more than 25, 35.
8. What would be the ideal time of year for your to participate in a writing retreat?
- End of June or beginning of August.
- This might be perfect.
- Late summer is perfect.
- This was a good choice. (August)
- Summer or winter breaks.
- Summer is best by far.
- Summer (with a long lead time on the data for planning)
- Summer or the first half of January.
- Late summer, early summer
- This time.
- The summer is best. A shorter retreat in the winter would also work.
9. Under what circumstances would you recommend participation in a future writing retreat to a colleague?
- Any women faculty in NE should attend, so, I'll certainly recommended next time I meet.
- Especially junior faculty can benefit, although senior faculty could do a great service to the community by being here.
- I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to any women geoscientist.
- If its like this one, my recommendation would be unconditional.
- I would, regardless.
- Any! However, if the retreat is at the same location and with a little more specific writing instruction, that would be even better.
- It's hard to imagine a colleague who wouldn't benefit from this!
- I would recommend to all my female colleagues.
- Under all circumstances!
- ANY circumstances
- I would recommend it to all.
- New faculty = women for contacts.
- What circumstances would I not recommend it! I'm telling everyone.
- I would suggest participation under any circumstances.
10. Was there additional information that you would you like to have received prior to the retreat?
- Only related to the venue--it would have been practical to have a power strip with me.
- No, it was perfectly adequate!
- More info about facilities? Bring all materials (BC web access restricts my library access!)
- I think more info might have persuaded more people to attend. The web site will help for future workshops.
- Material fine
- The emails didn't get through to me and I had to contact Ginny and ask her to send it to me. I also wish I had had a bit more of an awareness of what state the project I was working on should be in.
11. How did each of the structured activities listed blow contribute to or detract from the goals of the retreat?
a) Networking (Sunday evening)
- Good ice-breaker
- Good exercise that introduced us to each other.
- This was a great start.
- Important start to get to know each other
- Great. A fun silly icebreaker that wasn't too silly.
- Interesting, useful
- Strong contribution--set a great, optimistic, relaxed tone for the week.
- Nice to meet everyone--became more comfortable.
- Necessary to break the ice.
- Good timing + great content.
- Great speaker from AWIS and fun activity (bingo). I really thought it was a nice way to start off the week.
b) Writing Tutor (Tuesday)
- Very useful
- Editing skills were very valuable.
- Positive Contribution--excellent!
- Great! More 'tips' would have been better. One –on-one session was greatly appreciated.
- Useful and nice to hear the presentation. Important 'little hints'.
- Very good
- Contributed, but science writing specifically would have been better.
- Great--very helpful for writing
- Not too helpful for me –
- Excellent overview/reminder of the basics/tips on the process.
- Again timing worked well + content good.
- I thought this person was amazing. It was fun to see someone so knowledgeable about the writing process and also extend some very useful tips regardless of discipline or writing goal. It was nice she had some journal article examples from our areas with which she gave great examples of what to do and what not to do in order to make our writing more coherent and interest for the reader.
c) Focus Group Discussion (Wednesday day)
- Useful. It made me think more about me.
- The purpose of it was not entirely clear to me so, this way I didn't think it was too helpful.
- Great opportunity to reflect, and learn about others.
- This was hard (thinking about myself) and really interesting hearing about others mostly but a good reflective exercise. I was very impressed with the women in the room.
- Was skeptical, but it was an outstanding experience.
- Poor--Began to feel as though valuable time was being wasted.
- Useful, but maybe in the evening--not "waste" writing time on it –
- This was OK--mainly served to highlight that we all feel similar, but we knew that already.
- Good opportunity for reflection.
- The 45 min interview was very useful. The session afterward less so.
- Good to hear others' ideas.
- This was interesting and I found it more of a networking/ bonding event. Contributed less to my writing.
- For me, I felt this was a good use of time. I don't know if it was intended to be such a heartfelt and revealing sort of activity, but my experience was that it gave us a time to share some of the deeper concerns and feeling we had about our work and careers. I was paired with a senior faculty member from UMass-Amherst. It's difficult for me to approach senior researchers at conferences or feel I have much in common with them so it was really neat to have had the opportunity to talk with her one-on-one. It was interesting to learn how she came to where she is now in her career and find that we had many things in common.
d) Information about COACHE (Wednesday evening)
- I liked having someone talk about these issues w/solid evidence. However, I don't think it contributes or detracts me from my goals.
- Very good. Especially the comment "Women don't ask" stuck in my mind. I recently learned that asking works and this confirmed it for me.
- Not too much--I believe that most in this retreat learned about these issues and somehow to learn about what one institution (it seemed) is doing, didn't help me much.
- Interesting. Very curious to see what the schools were doing. I thought the discussion went on a bit too long.
- The least relevant to the workshop, interesting to hear though.
- Interesting; no impact on writing
- This one didn't appeal to me so much. The statistics presented seemed to be based on perception rather than fact--and this isn't necessary for this well-known problem. The presentation should have been more solution oriented--providing us with coping tools.
- Good perspective on where we are/where we've been as women in science.
- I found this one the least interesting
- Missed this.
- This was interesting--although preaching to the choir a little. It neither contributed or distracted from meeting my goals.
- Synopsis of one: These were all fine sessions. However, I'd cautiously suggest having fewer of them. In particular, two in one day virtually cuts in to the writing time. However, again, all were good--I'm not complaining--I hope!
12. What unstructured aspects of the retreat did you find to be most valuable?
- Time to write!
- The meals we had together, where we just talked about our experiences.
- Range/combination of ranks, levels, ages (professional), lines of disciplines.
- Large time blocks of uninterrupted work.
- The setting--peaceful, quiet, removed. The building--little 'nooks' all over to sit and write not be on top of each other. The socializing--little groups & chats from time to time.
- Lots of isolation/empty spaces within the large house! Opportunity to change local scenery and remain productive.
- It is great to have so much uninterrupted time and not have to cook, shop or clean!!
- Again, time in solitude. Informal discussions over meals--I think these might serve many of the purposes served by the more formal workshops.
- Lots of 'free' time for writing and work--could use even more of this. Meals were a treat--you know you would have some enjoyable & satisfying interactions.
- I loved coming to the dining room 3 times a day and seeing that wonderful group of women.
- Lots of TIME & no interruptions!
- All the unstructured time was a gift, there is so little in our busy lives. I got so much done and got some exercise, which I seldom make time for.
- Walking alone or with someone else. Dinner out with old friend living nearby.
- Dinner time chats! And that we are going to swap papers.
13. In addition to writing retreats, we are planning skills workshops during the next three years. Are there skills that you would like to develop to enhance your professional success?
- How to negotiate position/salary/benefits
- Writing proposals. Speaking for large audiences in a formal setting.
- Proposal writing retreat, more effective networking.
- Strategies to work with faculty (eg skills needed for Dept. Chairs) maybe some case studies, the psychology behind why people behave the way they do sometimes--more so for women--eg why for some the first reaction to something not seeming to go so well is what did I do wrong! Maybe could be done by people volunteering specific concerns (anonymously) and others for an appropriate leader discuss, brain storm etc…
- Certainly proposal writing, maybe including "the proposal process!! Where to look for funding (NSF/NASA alternatives), how to talk to the program manger, etc…
- Others have mentioned grant writing. Thought I would add that. I would find that less valuable than this format.
- Leadership: How to disagree in a constructive but convincing way. How to discuss difficult topics with grad students i.e. how to effectively ensure progress.
- A proposal--writing retreat would be great!
- Grant writing seminar/retreat would be great.
- Leadership skill. Coping skills e.g. success strategies in a hostile environment (what to do when thoughts/ideas are "stolen", responding to patronizing attitudes, transitioning to equal status)
- Proposal writing. (Thank you for doing this!)
- Writing is the Biggest one! Speaking, inspiring grad students, young people.
- Proposal writing--this continues to be the biggest headache in my life.
- Time management! I am not so concerned about proposal writing but would attend one as you can always learn something (and, also for the networking) Negotiation/people management would also be useful.
How many publications do you typically submit on an annual basis to a referred journal?
- None, last 2 years.
- 1-2 (needs to be 2)
XXX Post Doctorate
XX Assistant Prof.
XXXXX Assoc. Prof.
X Other--(Distinguished Professor)
Type of School:
Type of Programs:
XXX Bachelors Only
X Bachelors and Masters
XXXXXXXXX Bachelors/Masters, PhD
Ethnic background (choose all that apply):
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