Monday, May 23, 2005

rolling merrily along

So this weekend I hung out with a bunch of women scientists and felt distinctly un-feminine. The emphasis on family and being naturally nurturing made my stomach churn. And the tendency to award scholarships to women with families also seems like a mis-step to me: how many hard-working, talented young women are out there who don't have children and don't want to? I felt like a minority.

But then I was flipping through a journal and saw that one of my colleagues - with whom I am likely to be competing for academic positions in the next year or two - published another Cell paper. And I started thinking, geez, if I hadn't had to waste so much time fighting the discrimination and general bullshit at my grad school and as a postdoc (directed primarily against women, and specifically ME), how much farther along would I be right now?

I guess I was thinking about it because my advisor is moving, and a couple of women confronted me this weekend to say how annoyed they were that she is abandoning them with very few female professors left in this department. It's not like there are many female professors where she is going, on the contrary, there are just as few. You just can't win.

And also, I was annoyed because a couple of the more successful, full-professor women sat on a panel and complained that not enough young women apply for faculty positions, and that's part of why there aren't more women faculty.

Like us not applying is the problem.

But when you think about it, our phones are not ringing off the hook with people letting us know about opening that haven't been advertised yet. Meanwhile I can name several young men I've seen sitting on career panels saying how their advisor's old drinking buddy called up and told them about a job that would be open for applications in a few months. Women are stuck searching for ads, and by the time the ad is out, you're already behind.

Needless to say, I'm going to send my CV and research proposal to those two professors and tell them to feel free to include me in any and all job searches they might know about. I'll be damned if they're going to accuse me of not applying!


At 8:37 PM, Blogger nobelprize-cookie said...

"Women scientists are not applying for faculty searches." I've heard it from my own department faculty search committees. Why should we believe it? We are told lies all the time that are not credible such as when a PI tell a grad student that there in no lab space for a rotation; or when a PI tell a postdoc that there is no funding to renew their contract.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Exactly. There is no way of assessing how true this really is, because schools are not required to report how many applications they got, and the gender breakdown, for each position they advertise.

As for PIs that claim not to have space or funding for you- you're better off without them. Nobody wants to work for someone who is so low on the food chain as to allow themselves to be limited by space and not ask for more; similarly, nobody wants to work for a PI who doesn't know how to secure enough funding to keep their lab going and continually recruit new people. The more people they turn away with stories like that, eventually no one will apply to their lab anymore, regardless of whether they were lying in the first place or not.


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