Monday, February 20, 2006

Who bitches more: men or women?

You know, at first I was stunned by avianflu's comment that I complain too much and that women tend to do that.

Really?

First off, I have to say I haven't written because I got some awesome, kick-ass data last week.

So who has time for blogging? Data = much better than blogger. Sorry, but it's true. As I've said before, this blog tends to be more of an outlet for bad things than a place to extoll the wonders of the universe.

Can't be everything to everybody.

And my anger is getting nicely polished, I actually really needed to see that paper last week because it triggered a really useful survival response. Some smart person commented on here a while back that I should think of the most mediocre scientist I know, and say, if they can get a job, so can I! Well that is always a good sentiment to come back to. What makes me mad is that I ever let myself get so beaten down as to think I didn't deserve one. But it's really hard not to slide into that kind of thinking with some of the nasty things people post on here. I figure it's just a tiny representation of what people in general are actually like... let's hope your numbers are tiny.

Second, I can't honestly say that I agree that women complain more. I think women complain differently, and usually require less alcohol to do so.

The men in my lab complain- in their native languages, over lunch, or at the bar. The women complain while we're still working. One will say "Oh, and this was so annoying" as she's pipetting, cheerily going about her experiments despite the irritation. It's like we just have to vent. But I guess lots of other people have said that women like to vent, and men like advice.

I think the scientific culture has contaminated me that way. I like advice, provided that it's something more constructive than the "quit bitching and get back to work"- although sometimes that's actually constructive in its own way.

I made the mistake of trying to 'help' this girl who was complaining to me last week about her lab. Finally she said she just wanted to vent and really didn't want any advice on it. Next time I guess I'll just tell her to quit bitching since if she hates her lab so much she should leave, since frankly I'm tired of hearing it.

Somehow I think that attitude would be worse for my job prospects than my current one.

Labels: ,

8 Comments:

At 7:23 PM, Blogger DrSiege said...

Congrats on the data gathering!

Girls complain more than guys? That's totally bogus. My boss is a guy and he constantly complains about everything...other people most of all, but I think that's him playing the one up/one down power game. However, citing specific testimonials is really not going to support either side. I believe as in everything having to do with humans, even if you can find decent trends, there are exceptions to every rule. Even if "girls complain more" is true as a general trend, you can /always/ find some specific guy who complains more than some specific girl.

Also, the statement of the girl saying that she just needed to vent and didn't need anyone to solve her problems is something that is explored in many books on inter-gender communication. It seems you were taking on the masculine role of trying to solve her problems instead of nodding and making soothing noises at her, which is really what she wanted. Telling her to shut up and stop complaining isn't going to do anything constructive, except piss her right the fuck off. My unsolicited advice is to nod and make soothing noises at her while completely ignoring what it is that she's saying if you need the brain power to concentrate on something important.

 
At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, finally, that you're beginning to see that you're not an exception to the rule ... that, just like 66-90% (or whatever) of postdocs, you have no prospect of a tenure-track position ... that the warnings weren't directed towards other people--they were talking about YOU ...

isn't it time to look inward ...

isn't it time to lose (or try to lose) all that HARSHNESS towards others?

 
At 5:30 AM, Blogger dlamming said...

I think it really all depends on your lab. My lab is pretty mixed gender-wise, but the women really don't complain very much at all. On the other hand, some of the men (myself included) complain quite a lot. Mostly it's just venting, though occassionally there's attempted behavior-modification going on. :)

 
At 5:32 AM, Blogger dlamming said...

Oh, and Dr. Seige - I'm sure she realises that she was taking on the "masculine role of trying to solve her problems." That said... often times, if you're complaining about something not working in lab, you'd like your problem solved for you. All depends on the situation, of course. :)

 
At 8:34 AM, Blogger Meredtih said...

In my experience, both men and women complain, but they just do it differently, as you said. I'm going to talk in general terms, and I don't want to offend anyone by stereotyping here- it's just my opinion based on what I've observed in the labs I've been in. I think a lot of women just want to vent out loud and have someone else comiserate and show empathy, effectively saying, "yes, you are right to feel that way, your feelings are valid". At least I do. By venting they feel better, even if the problem isn't solved- they usually aren't seeking advice per se- if they want help with a problem, usually they'll ask for it. Men, on the other hand, tend to complain more in an effort to rally people to their "side" of the particular issue at hand. The men I've worked with seem not to talk about a particualar issue unless they are actively trying to find a solution to their problem. I think it has to do with the fact that men tend to concentrate on one thing at a time, while women are concerned with many things all at once, and by venting every so often we can clear our minds temporarily of some stress that's distracting us, and deal with the problem more acutely later on. I think when men get caught up in a problem, they need to deal with it before they can move on, hence they are more about seeking solutions when they complain than just venting for the sake of venting. Again, just my observations, but it could be that this is the way people in the labs I've worked in have acted, and it could be due more to personality than gender.

To change the subject, I agree though, that for me, writing is a way of thinking "out loud" and expressing thoughts that I have a hard time doing otherwise, so very often my blog ends up being very whiney-sounding because I use it as a vehicle to complain and vent, which I can't do that much in person. I suspect that for you it is very similar, so I think that anyone reading your blog should take your complaints with a grain of salt, and realize that you are probably not nearly as negative a person as you sometimes come off as in this blog. As a fellow young female scientist, there are many issues that I see you touch on in this blog that I know aren't nearly addressed often enough in academia, and if others perceive you as bitchy, so be it- those issues need to be talked about- so take their criticisms as compliments. It's good to stir people up and get them thinking from some else's perspective once in a while, and for every person who responds negatively to you, there is at least one other who is glad that you wrote what you wrote.

 
At 11:08 AM, Anonymous avianflu said...

I didnt mean to offend - I probably over simplified a complex difference between sexes. I love reading your blog - your well written and controversial comments make for great entertainment in between experiments.

I just take great delight in listening to women (my wife included) moan and never do anything about the problem in question. But as you say it is probably a way of venting frustrations.

I honestly wish you well in your quest for an academic position which I feel from what I have read you fully deserve.

Keep up the great blogging.

 
At 4:53 PM, Blogger Abel PharmBoy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 5:02 PM, Blogger Abel PharmBoy said...

[sorry, previous post removed because I was embarrassed by the spelling errors and missing words that I didn't catch during the preview]

Take pride in the fact that your negative, misogynist anonymous commenter(s), can't stay away from reading you. I totally 'get' the idea that you use this vehicle to vent and that if you look at your comments on others' blogs, your regular readers know that you are a very kind and thoughtful person who is stuck in the same hell as the majority of postdocs.

Re: lab gender issues, I have to weigh in with my experience as a P.I. For whatever reason, my lab has run with 75-100% women for 12 of my 14 years as an independent researcher and my three Ph.D. grads are all women. This wasn't intentional but I suspect it may have to do with my first male technician constantly talking about "getting laid" (or, more precisely, not getting laid). He's really a great guy, ultimately getting a PhD elsewhere and now has a lab in Big Pharma.

In the early days, I was barely a few years older than my lab folks so we hung out alot for beers, so I had to hear about this getting laid thing at work and in my social life. The women in my group may have talked about their own sex lives in lab, but they never felt the need to share their needs with me daily and so explicitly.

Well, he somehow got a girlfriend and then I had to constantly hear about how much closer and closer he was to getting laid. I told him that when the miracle finally occurred, to please take the next day off on my dime for the sake of all of us. I knew that I wouldn't be able to stand it 'the day after.' A free day off motivated him even further.

The end of the story: he got his wish one New Year's Eve - but the univ was closed the next day (already a paid vacation day) and I was gone visiting my family during the entire next week. By the time I got back, he had calmed down enough that we were able to talk about submitting his abstract for an upcoming meeting.

Postscript: the very same former tech and sympathetic girlfriend are happily married with two beautiful boys.
I guess that means he's gotten laid two more times since.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home