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For many it was important to be acknowledged within their professional sphere beyond Cambridge. There was also a recognition that achievements could be ephemeral, highly personal and evolve over time or in relation to context. Whilst family life took many different shapes, there remained a consistent message about how vital it was. The all is there to remove filters from the initial filter context.
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Obviously a silly measure, but it does illustrate the point that filtering at the most granular level seems… good. It is so weird. Based on previous discussion, I think we already understand this one. The ALL just nukes off that filter context completely. And we are left with the entire Calendar table. I am gonna go ahead and guess it is creating a row context to do this iteration… cuz, how else would it work?!
Easily confirmed at this term since it is sooooo nekked! It is not wrapped in any sort of aggregate function, which always totally blows up… unless you are inside a row context just like evaluating a calculated column! Okay, so… we are iterating over the whole table which started as the initial filter context, and got stripped by the ALL , and we are walking one row at a time comparing this column and then we hit that crazy MAX.
MIN would give us only June 1 for June, which would be non-good. Okay, so what filter context is used by the MAX? Nothing would filter out. So clearly, it is the original filter context. I mean… I guess? I mean… it just is. Only at the day level — min day of June does not equal max June … but min Jun7 does equal max Jun7.
Participants talked about becoming part of a wider intellectual or professional community, which then became a source of support, acknowledgement and stimulation. It was clear that they had an appetite to keep learning and developing throughout their careers. Many of them found that it gave them a clear sense of purpose and was fundamental to their sense of who they were. Whilst work was rarely pursued to the exclusion of all else, it was nonetheless a central part of their existence.
Some people talked about putting their heart and soul into their work, and also described the often gruelling journey they had undertaken to achieve a particular outcome. The appetite to make a tangible impact through their work was clearly discernible. Inevitably, the type of impact participants were able to achieve varied considerably, depending on their specific areas of expertise, their seniority and the scope of their role. Some participants took simple pleasure in the incremental improvements that were the fabric of their daily work, or in the persistent effort necessary to land vital grants and donations.
Others pointed to keynote moments such as coordinating the press conference for a Nobel Prize winner from the University, or securing a medical breakthrough that would help to address a life-threatening illness.
Several participants talked about taking pride in having changed their field with a particular discovery, but they did so with no more or less pride than those in service or support roles who helped to create the conditions for such a breakthrough, for example by ensuring a lab was safe and fully resourced.
Securing awards, promotions and other acknowledgements of achievement The vast majority of participants had a healthy interest in securing acknowledgement for their efforts, particularly if it came from individuals or institutions that they themselves rated. In contrast, little value was attached to being able to secure the corner office or a larger desk with each new job. Promotion was an important marker of success for many, although it was more noticeable as a theme amongst academics than non-academics.
This was even more the case when it had been achieved whilst under significant pressure, perhaps as a result of studying as a part-time or mature student. For some there was a sense of achieving second time around, perhaps after a less successful first degree, requalifying for a new career or after having left school early. For many it was important to be acknowledged within their professional sphere beyond Cambridge. As well as the obvious indicator of being widely published, such acknowledgement could take the form of fellowships, prizes and medals, or becoming chair of an influential body outside the University.
Additional sheen was added if they were the first or one of very few women to have secured such recognition. Participants would not view themselves as an overall success if their achievements in the work sphere fundamentally undermined family life. If they could see themselves as having integrated their work and home lives in a way that was broadly healthy and viable, then it was an achievement based on deeply held beliefs about what mattered most to them in life.
They are my husband and children, pursuing the questions in science that excite me and being able to help others to do the same. Both were essential and needed to be integrated, rather than compartmentalised. This is not to say that tension and tough choices were eradicated, but for the people who saw this as an area of personal achievement those choices were managed in a way that broadly worked.
Compromises were made, and few if any of the participants espoused the idea that you could have everything you wanted all the time. Pragmatism, informed by a clear sense of what really mattered, was the order of the day. Being a good parent and grandparent was of paramount importance to many, as was maintaining enduring and mutually supportive partnerships.
Whilst family life took many different shapes, there remained a consistent message about how vital it was. Many people talked about family indirectly feeding into their achievements in the work sphere by bringing a greater focus or a different perspective.
Several pointed to the basic accomplishment of surviving the sleepless nights and energy-depleted years that come with very young children, whilst others enjoyed the fact that their teenagers would still talk to them!
Being able to secure an education despite family obstacles or to hold down a job whilst coping with a relationship breakdown both counted as achievements in the family sphere. Resilience demonstrated under pressure is perhaps the darker side of achievement, but is in many ways just as important as the more obvious markers of success.
There was pride in having withstood a range of setbacks, from failing to secure a particular promotion or having a grant application turned down through to conquering debilitating performance anxiety as a musician.
The capacity to pick oneself up, bounce back and carry on regardless was something that participants clearly valued in themselves and others. This was also evident amongst those who talked about forging a career whilst having a chronic illness or depression, or providing support to a family member who was experiencing difficulties.
Navigating adversity seems to have had the effect of sweetening subsequent achievements. There were individuals who seemed to thrive under arduous field conditions without running water or electricity, whilst others jumped into the unknown by taking a job in a different discipline or on a different continent.
There was an appetite to seek out situations that were scary because they offered the promise of new learning opportunities and excitement. This pioneering spirit showed up in various ways, including being the first in their family or school to attend university, being the first woman in a particular post, being the lone woman round a corporate board table or defying expectations by succeeding despite a lack of formal qualifications.
Being a pioneer was not exclusively linked to gender, but was often accentuated by the limited numbers of women in certain positions or subject areas. Some women also became more conspicuous having had a non-linear or unusual career pattern, such as pursuing academia late in life, making a significant career change, returning to work after many years away or being a senior woman in a successful job share. Visibility brings with it a degree of scrutiny.
It brings a sense of being a role model whether you like it or not, simply based on the fact that your colleagues, both men and women, will be aware of what you do. Some of the women we spoke to were more at ease with this notion than others.