Monday, November 07, 2005

Sick with dread

So yesterday and today I am feeling ill. I'm pretty sure it's from stress, fear that this experiment didn't work, compounded this morning by what I perceived as an absence of a friendly greeting from my advisor, prompting all kinds of paranoia that I think is mostly post-traumatic stress leftover from my previous two advisors. And it's Monday, so I'm also feeling guilty about not really wanting to run all the samples I collected over the weekend, even though I have no way of knowing whether the experiments worked until I do, and no way to decide what to set up next until that happens, so it will delay everything this week if I don't get off my butt and start doing it.

But I feel ill and anxious, so I am trying to remind myself to breathe, etc. and think good thoughts. Nevermind constantly having to push bad thoughts about the job search out of my mind. On the way in this morning I was thinking I should do more networking today, and maybe that would make me feel better, or something.
This weekend we had lunch with an old friend of my boyfriend's, and by old I mean he's older than our parents. This guy is my worst nightmare- the old fart of science. He thinks he knows everything, it's his way or the highway, everyone is an idiot or a feminist (bad) or a foreigner (also bad). My boyfriend knows him from work, and he finds all of this guy's offensiveness amusing, probably because none of it is ever directed at him or any minority groups he belongs to. And he figures he's harmless... but I'm not so sure. Who knows what kind of crap this guy perpetrated on his students and trainees over the years??? Based on the stuff he says, it's hard not to fear the worst. I find it especially frightening that this guy is still teaching classes: these poor people sign up and pay money, and probably have no idea what they've gotten themselves into.

Anyway I guess part of my panic at the moment stems from worrying that I might- god forbid- meet more people like this guy, and worse than that, have to work with one someday. This guy, and guys like him, are a definite dealbreaker for me when it comes to the workplace. I think having to face up to the fact that people like this actually exist is probably good, it keeps me from being too naive. But I have to wonder how many of them there are out there?


At 12:28 PM, Blogger Silvershoes said...

Hi - I found your webpage rather randomly froom a Google search I think. I have a PhD in physics and work in industry, but I've been through the academic job search and have known quite a few postdocs. Just wanted to let you know that I'm rooting for you! Hang in there, it will all work out. (If you're wondering, I'm NOT working in industry because of a failed job search!)

There are still people like you describe out there, but fortunately they're getting fewer and farther between.

At 3:59 PM, Blogger jo(e) said...

Yep, oldschool obnoxious guys are still out there. Some of them work at my college. But many are near retirement age ....

That's why I like reading blogs like yours. It's great to know the up and coming scientists who will change things for the better.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger BotanicalGirl said...

That guy sounds like my ex-PI(example? "All the Chinese are lazy" said in front of a Chinese co-worker). He was never wrong. Hated idiots. Didn't hate feminists or strong women as much as just didn't know what to do with them. UGH.

Good luck. Take some deep breaths. I think today was rough for a lot of people.

At 2:31 AM, Blogger angrygrad said...

Jo(e): not all the young folk are like this.

The last bit about the 'feminists' and 'foreigners' sounds just like the new post-doc our lab hired.

At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Zuska said...

Hey. I'm afraid that the stupid/obnoxious/prejudiced idiots are still out there in significant numbers, and age is not an important factor - they can be young or old. They can also be female - I've known more than a few obnoxious females who think they are passing as men and look down on all the other women.

That said, I think these types are actually easier to deal with in some ways. They are upfront about their prejudices and you know exactly what to expect from them. You can even prepare in advance how to deal with them. When you become a professor, you may find yourself one day on a committee with one of these types, and actually end up working with him (usually a him) better than with the more pernicious species, which is the Hidden Sexist/Racist/Classist. These are the types who have learned to be careful in their language about their prejudices - they have learned how not to be extremely explicit - but they will undermine you at every step, and you really need to watch out for them.

But - what you will do when you become a professor is, you will find out what kinds of support there is on campus for women faculty. A women's caucus? The women's studies department - do they have get-togethers for women faculty? Is there a chapter of AWIS on campus? Whatever there is, seek it out and join it. For there you will meet the older, seasoned warrior women who can tell you all about the ins and outs of the campus and how to deal with the Hidden Jerks.

And if all else fails (and even if all else does not fail) you will get yourself a copy of "Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia" because her advice really is impeccable.

And hopefully, you will, one day, get yourself a boyfriend who finds racist/sexist jerks to be not amusing, but offensive. Even if they aren't offending him personally. I'm not Jewish, but my friend, who is, had an advisor in our grad school days who thought it was just the height of fun to tell Jewish jokes to her. What could she do, he was her advisor? So I made it a point to stand next to her, NOT laugh, and then say "I don't get it. Can you explain that to me?" When he actually started to explain the racist assumptions one needed to hold in order to find the joke funny, he suddenly and finally got embarrassed, stopped talking, and walked away. The jokes stopped. I'm sure he still has prejudice against Jews. And probably now against uppity women. But - he stopped abusing my friend. Solidarity - very important. There are many people out here pulling for you.

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

thanks for all the supportive advice.

re: "all the chinese are lazy" is an interesting one. My last advisor was like that, except that he liked chinese and hated japanese. He also made jewish jokes a lot.. it didn't occur to me to pretend I didn't get them, but I liked your story about that. My current lab is mostly chinese. They have a different take on it: they think people who were raised in China work harder than Chinese who were raised here. So there you go. You can't win!

I read Ms Mentor's Impeccable Book a while ago, and although I found most of it interesting and much of it amusing, it didn't really tell me anything new.

re: my boyfriend, he's quite the feminist himself, he just hasn't gotten to the point where he wants to shun everyone who isn't. i'm not sure he ever will. but i'm not sure if that should be a dealbreaker for me. should it??

Just because I know how to handle myself with these people- and I do usually manage to get my point across- doesn't mean I want to deal with that kind of stress and aggravation on a regular basis.

I like the idea of joining something where I can meet older Warrior Women, especially since I haven't had much luck with that as a postdoc. see next blog for more on that.

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