Women can't argue.
(This post was inspired by the book Women Don't Ask, among other things.)
Lately I find myself forced to attend seminars where I disagree with the speaker... and most of the people asking questions.
Once upon a time, I might have tried to 'ask' a 'question' in such a format as to argue with the overriding opinion of the Group. You know, a criticism cloaked as a pseudo-question.
Lately, for a variety of reasons but mainly because I'm Tired, I don't ask anything.
I don't want to argue.
Somewhere along the line I decided that maybe because of my personality, and at least partly because I'm female, it doesn't usually help my case or my mood to bring up alternative viewpoints. At least, not unless I have at least one other person in the room to back me up.
Sure, I might reach one or two not-yet-biased students in the room, who might be curious enough to ask about it afterwards or even go back to their lab and look it up.
But it that enough to make it worthwhile? Usually not.
I realize that Scientific Discourse is supposed to include Discussion Of Alternatives, and the other day I got a strange look from somebody whom I think was expecting me to pipe up about something when I chose to say nothing at all.
Of course maybe I was imagining that, but I'm wondering if this man has any concept of why someone like me might choose to keep her mouth shut in certain situations.
I hate that some people only respect you when you're constantly arguing with them. I find that bizarre.
I also hate that when I'm going to argue for something Different, I'm forced to be extraordinarily articulate... or else written off as Crazy/Stupid.
Maybe I'm just out of practice, but I just don't enjoy the part of communication where I have to spell out the most basic of concepts in order to make a point about something a bit bigger. I really don't enjoy having to condescend to people who choose to be deliberately obtuse.
Or maybe they're really that stupid? I can't say for sure.
Maybe worst of all, I really hate that I'm supposed to care what they think, or worse- try to change their minds when I know I can't (at least not from the vantage point of asking a pseudo-question at someone else's seminar).
It's these kinds of things that really make me question whether I would enjoy academia in the long run, or any kind of research much longer.
That, and talking to an incredibly successful friend who is up for tenure and telling me not to apply for jobs because I'd just be signing up for more of the same stuff I hate now.
I realize that he's upset right now because he got screwed by one of these typical funding snafus (got scored in the 8th percentile with a high priority, they funded down to 14th percentile, but they didn't fund him and said he should resubmit next time around).
But this is also one of the people who told me not to go to grad school. And boy do I wish I had been listening to him then.