Friday, March 17, 2006

the things people say.

So today I was talking to this guy and he doesn't know that much about me, but he knows I've been a postdoc for X number of years and that I'm looking for a faculty position, what field I'm in, what I'm working on. He initially assumed that I was single, so then I told him well yeah I have a boyfriend and it makes it a little bit more stressful looking for a job.

So he started asking me what does your boyfriend do, and I told him, and he said:

"Oh well then it sounds like your boyfriend is on a faster track than you."


Apparently it is easier to get a job in that field than in mine. Okay, fine. But I guess I am feeling hypersensitive today because I felt like the wording he chose implied your boyfriend must be much better than you.

Now, I'm sure my boyfriend would argue vehemently against that, since if anything he's got a dose of impostor syndrome himself. I'm just shocked at how it made me feel: tremendously insulted, not to mention extremely discouraged.

My boyfriend is an amazing, talented and smart person, and I would be happy enough to get a job by following him somewhere. But we just thought it was unlikely since I've been a postdoc longer than he has. Now I'm wondering if we should go back to the plan where he gets a job and I get hired only because they want him.

After all, most of the women faculty I know got their jobs that way.

Not exactly a vote for feminism, but at this point I'd rather do that, I think, and just have that be the way it is, than sit around wondering how it is that the one thing I'm actually pretty good at is really not something I can get a job doing.


In other news, talked to a friend today who got an industry job at Big Drug Company. She's a star chemist and said she's surprised at how much she's loving this new job, that it's much more like academia than she thought.

!That sounds great! I'm sooooo happy for her.

Well then the caveats are all that she's in the best department, at the best location, with the best people. She said I should really consider industry because it's so much fun and everyone is so great, but I'm sure I wouldn't be so lucky since I'm neither a star of her caliber, nor a chemist.

Nor, apparently, do I have very good karma. This whole week felt like payback for last week, which was actually really good.

The math seems to go something like this:

Ms.PhD has 1 good week ---> therefore she deserves 8 bad weeks in payment.

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At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

let me translate what the guy really meant.

"oh, so you have a BOYFRIEND and thus haven't been waiting your whole life to date me and/or are snubbing me. i think i will passively aggressively undermine you to make me feel better about the fact that i might never reproduce. "

don't take it to heart.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...


Thanks, that made me laugh. I think he was just trying to undermine me, period, and and not just because I'm so irresistably attractive (!). He's married and has two kids, so I really hope it's not because he was hoping I would, you know, have sex with him or something. (I have no idea if his marriage is going well or not!)

But I have gotten that kind of question before, and not in a context of chatting informally about how our lives are going. To quote one former advisor, "So... are you and your boyfriend still together?"

At 10:57 AM, Blogger PhD Mom said...

Most of my female old labmates/friends who have gone on to faculty positions were not hired because of a spouse. [Their spouses are not in academics]. And, I in fact know of one situation where a University hired the husband to get the wife. Please don't be so negative on the qualifications of women scientists.

At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My partner gets this crap constantly. (I'm male, my SO is female, we're both in academia, me in science.) Knowing little about either of us, people will assume that I'm the star, that she'll follow me where I get a job. And when we both have permanent jobs, I'm sure people will assume she got hers because of me, even though the opposite is more likely to turn out to be true.

It's like, no matter how talented and passionate she is about her work, if she has a boyfriend, it's just something to pass the time until she settles into a more wifely position. And this even from some people who you would think would know better.

Being a guy, I can't offer any advice on how to deal with this. But I can tell you it's crap, crap, crap.


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