Thursday, August 07, 2008

Letter I won't send... yet.

To all those who may have known me in science:

This letter is to let you know that I quit.

I quit being a postdoc.

I will not apply for faculty positions, and I will not apply for industry positions. I will not apply to teach science anywhere, ever.

Science can kiss my ass.

I want to thank you for all the help and support you've tried to give me over the years. Some of it helped.

None of it helped enough, obviously.

I want you to know I am the poster girl for what is wrong with this so-called 'system' that governs research in this country.

I am Jack's leaky pipeline.

But I digress. I am writing to let you know that I am writing a book about all of the unbelievably awful shit that has happened to me in science.

I'm sure you will be in it, mentioned by name.

Did you think I forgot what you said that day?

Now everyone will know.

I hope you're proud of yourselves.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never commented before. I only found your blog a couple of weeks ago, and have, since then, been diligently reading my way through all your past entries. I'm currently in the middle of 2006 so I have no idea what variety of shit has recently hit the fan. However, I just wanted to say that I read the content of this post, without reading the title, and wanted to shout NOOOOOOOO!!! Having read the title, I have calmed down considerably. I want you to know that the idea that you could have been driven out of the science by the 'system' fills me with horror. Science needs people like you, and the nonsense you have had to endure appalls me. I have no tangible assistance to offer given that I completed my PhD all of about 2 months ago, and am getting on the postdoc treadmill myself in a couple of weeks. I'm just a voice in the dark saying 'hang in there', and if you don't, please tell us all the name of the book because I would love to read it.

About to be PostDoc

At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lolz, you were saying your week was getting better...

anyhoo, i hear ya sister. i am a female postdoc too. i'm tired of the incessant mind games and unspoken rules of the boys' club. i'm tired of finagling anything i ever wrote or submitted to pretty much say what they wanted to hear. i'm tired of the clicheness of the lab. of any lab i've been in.

i'm starting to lean towards the "dark side."

reminds me of something i read on Drugmonkey's site... the whole science "training" is a selection process, but what it's actually selecting for are not necessarily the best scientists. those people are jumping ship.

At 9:39 PM, Blogger yajeev said...

Your letter betrays you.

You wrote:

I want to thank you for all the help and support you've tried to give me over the years. Some of it helped.

None of it helped enough, obviously.

But, later, you wrote:

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Clearly, then, you have, along the way, in your studies, received the answer... to life, the universe, and everything... to the ultimate question:


I am confident that, had you applied this information, things would have gone much more swimmingly.

Best wishes.

At 7:48 AM, Blogger Unbalanced Reaction said...

...on the plus side, it's the weekend? Wait, since the "system" usually requires giving up weekends, I suppose that is poor comfort.

Hope things get better soon.

At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that I want you to quit, but....

That would be SO INCREDIBLY AWESOME if you wrote that book. It is actually not a bad idea, you could probably make more money from royalties than any faculty position would pay. Of course, you would effectively be burning your bridges in science for all eternity. However, your subsequent fame would make up for it.

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Perry said...

I'm sorry to hear that you're down.
I'm sorry to hear that the system is broken.

Any ideas on how to fix it?

I'm certain that I don't understand the nuances of your problems like you do... but everyone's life is hard.

Perhaps we are all insignificant, but we are none of us helpless.

At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because of many things you say and i very often see/feel. i decided i'm done with academia. I just (3months) finished my phd, i've been looking for a job outside academia, it's taking longer than i expected (and than a post doc position), but this is the time for me to jump, search and wait... No hart feelings about academia, but it's not for me :-)


At 8:19 AM, Anonymous lost academic said...

Maybe what you need is a break.

There comes a point where even past the laudable qualities of hard work, perseverance, intelligence, innate gifts, etc., you are just not getting close to the energy and reward (of any type) back out of what you're putting into something you do LIKE and LOVE.

This isn't advice anybody really wants to hear or to take when it's needed, but it's probably time for a break. For awhile, maybe just a couple of years or so, do something only tangentially related to what you're doing now that can easily support you and not set you grossly far back. Based on what I've read (and btw, I really have read everything here) you've got plenty of options if you want them. I don't think not wanting them is a bad thing, but choosing them for a temporary period so that you don't entirely burn yourself out or get eaten up by the negatives involved in your situation, which are reparable, will likely go a long way towards all of your eventual longterm goals.

I believe that if you bang your head into a wall long enough, you'll break through it. But sometimes, by the time you're done doing that, you don't want what's on the other side anymore because the pathway changed or damaged you that much.

Besides. A couple years doing something different will give you new problems and techniques to master, new ways to shine, and show those ingrates just what they took for granted.

At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do it already!

You won't regret it. You'll only regret not getting out sooner.

- Two former scientists living happily ever after.


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