Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Response to PiT

PiT wrote a couple of long comments, a couple of posts ago. Here is my response. Okay, so I'm in a pissy mood today. But let's be honest. It's a blog, and I don't have to be nice.


I appreciate that you're trying to be blunt. I applaud that, actually, and encourage you to keep it up.

With that in mind, I'll do the same.

I gotta say, if you've really read my blog, then you know - and so does everyone else - you aren't saying anything new. In fact, I'm kind of astounded at your complete lack of creativity. Is this really all you can come up with?

Because it's like, um, a cliffs notes version of EVERYTHING I'VE ALREADY HEARD AND BLOGGED ABOUT???????????

I never used cliffs notes. And I'm sure as hell not going to start now.

So let's be totally blunt. If you had actually read my blog, then you would know that there's a real possibility that I might be happier quitting science completely than continuing on with any sort of lame-ass bullshit.

Industry lame-ass bullshit or more postdoc lame-ass abusive fucking bullshit. FUCK. THAT.

What's the point, anyway? NOBODY CARES what I have to contribute to science.

NOBODY CARES. NOBODY. I mean, seriously. I don't get one fucking shred of positive feedback on my work for months at a time, and then they wonder why I'm having career doubts.

I mean, Seriously????

And having said that, I will say what else I feel like saying today:

Fuck you, NIH and grad school.

And oh, by the way America? This is the cause of the so-called 'shortage' of scientists in this country.


I'd rather work in a fucking donut shop. I mean, seriously. There's more creativity in designing patterns of colored sprinkles than I see from most employed scientists.

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At 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm being forced out at the postdoc level. things are definitely not as rosy as i thought they'd be 2 years ago. a good friend of mine, one of my closest friends (who is male and is a tt sssist. prof.) gave me some advice. he says i should move with my husband, give up on science, and have babies. this is the kind of advice a FRIEND in the business is giving me. also? nih has yet to fund any of my grant applications. thanks nih! thanks world!!

At 10:25 PM, Anonymous figuring-it-out said...

LMAO ... ok i know that it was supposed to be a serious rant/post but lol. you're funny when you're mad sometimes :) lol donut shop

on a more serious note i feel like i've been screwed over by the system too, on bad days. i hate it when i catch myself wondering whether i'd have more prospects in science had i chosen another lab to do my PhD ... (i hate this hit and miss bullshit) it's not that i wasn't "productive" during my PhD in terms of having published papers, it's just the mentorship side of things was just a little lacking (ok, understatement). maybe it was cause my prof seemed like he had asperger's syndrome and he could't seem to relate to people, i dunno. but it's not like i hadn't (and haven't) tried seeking out mentorship. but like you've said in the past YFS, i couldn't really find any good mentors. and not for lack of trying either. hell, i consider these blogs my mentors now. so thank you :) for me, somedays your blog is like crack. not that i'm a user ... and not that i have anything against crack users except for diminishing rain forests.

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Eppendork said...

mmmmm sprinkles.... empathy bout the shite workplace - my better half has given away science because of shite that went down during phd. Virtual hugs for you


At 10:39 PM, Blogger Becca said...

Why is industry "lame-ass bullshit"? Did I miss you trying that or something?
Or do you just have a few miserable friends (side note, at a career day we had one guy at Merck who was obviously ubermiserable from the traveling/time commitment immediately after he'd become a father; but we also had plenty of people happy with their industry jobs; my understanding was that it was a much greater variety than you'd see in academia [sometimes even within a single company], so I don't understand why it would all be dismissed out-of-hand).

At 10:42 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

You two rock. LOL.

Anon- I'm totally with you there. I have had more than one person suggest this to me as if it had never occurred to me and I clearly needed to see the light.


I'm glad you found it funny. I totally agree about the "what if I had just.." and the hit-and-miss aspect of the myth of Finding of Mentor.

I do think the reality for most everyone, but especially for women, is like trying to find a very specific needle in a haystack full of razor blades, in the dark. (you're going to bleed a lot, and you probably still won't find it)

I do try to be funny, actually, it's just that what's left of my sense of humor is more the Joss Whedon, stick-a-sword-in-him- and send-him-to-a-hell-dimension sort of humor than dog-with-reindeer-headband sort of humor.

These days, I'm happy to be anybody's crack. Pun intended. I'd consider it a step up from being somebody's (donut?) hole.

At 11:23 PM, Blogger GirlPostdoc said...

You go girl!

At 11:33 PM, Blogger GirlPostdoc said...

Hey maybe you could take up writing while you worked at that doughnut shop. Shit, you are really funny.

At 2:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have postdoc friends who gave up and had babies and became stay-at-home momes instead. I think this is almost tragic, these are people who had really really good track records and went to the top schools, published in the top journals, and then, this. It is really depressing to me. I mean there's nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom if you were planning for it all along. But to do it because you just couldn't get a job or were too drained to continue, really says a lot. I can't say I blame them either, if you are having such a hard time getting a job and trying to start your career (to me the postdoc years are still pre-career since they call it 'training') then how can you handle babies on top of that too?? something has got to give, right?? And since society diminishes women who choose career over family (but men are always allowed by society to have both), is it any wonder these female postdocs choose to drop out of the race and throw away everything they have worked so hard to achieve during the best years of their young adulthood?

At 3:04 AM, Anonymous fed up said...

How flexible are you willing to be?

I'm also struggling, I've been a postdoc for far too long - there comes a point where future employers assume you are damaged goods if you are still a postdoc after so many years....

I've been given all kinds of conflicting advice and when I try to follow one advice I get criticized for not following the other.

Example: I have often been advised to be flexible and be willing to compromise and explore a wider range of options, sort of like what PiT is telling you. So, OK, I tried that. I started looking and trying for different types of jobs (TT, non-TT, teaching, non-teaching, industry) and different institutions, even considered doing yet another postdoc as painful as that is.

But at some point when I am questioned (whether by hiring committees or by my recommendation-letter-writers) as to WHY am I applying for this or that job, and how does this fit into my "career plan", and I say it's because I'm trying to be flexible and creative and compromise, I then get criticized for being a drifter and wishy-washy!!! I then get told I should be more focused and work single-mindedly toward one goal and ignore everything else.

So on the one hand I have people advising me to "take whatever you can get, just don't stay where you are because that is languishing" and on the other hand I'm also told by other people that "taking whatever you can get" is a defeatist attitude and I'll never get anywhere with such a wishy-washy attitude.

I am fed up. As far as I'm concerned all the advice-givers can take their advice and shove it up where the sun don't shine.

I have to admit that when I was in a "take whatever I can get" mode, I felt depressed like there is no rhyme or reason to anything. Then when I have been in the single-minded mode I am filled with despair because it is just not working out.

So I guess I oscillate between the two. At present I'm back to trying to take whatever I can get because of purely financial reasons - I simply can't afford to keep living on a postdoc salary that hasn't changed in the last 3 years when the cost of everything (housing, groceries, interest rates, you name it) is increasing.

At 3:41 AM, Blogger Super Babe said...


A nail salon has always been my dream... of course, with my PhD degree nicely framed and put on the wall :)

At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Betsy said...

"What's the point, anyway? NOBODY CARES what I have to contribute to science. NOBODY CARES. NOBODY. I mean, seriously. I don't get one fucking shred of positive feedback on my work for months at a time, and then they wonder why I'm having career doubts."

This comment is interesting to me. I went to a "Women in Science" lunch thing years ago and one of the women there made a comment about why she thought women had it tougher in academia. She thought that women needed much more external gratification than men, and that's something you will RARELY get in academia. It's true--the only time you really get it is when you get funded/published, and even then the praise is so far removed from the actual work that it doesn't really feel genuine.

I do need someone (anyone?) to give a shit about what I do--my own personal gratification can only go so far. That's one of the (many) reasons I chose to leave academia. I work at a small biotech, and get TONS of positive feedback, all the time. When you're part of a team trying to move a project forward, everything you do to further the project goals is recognized by every other person on the team. I feel like the work I do matters to these people, something I NEVER felt in academia.

But what do I know? I'm just a "lame-ass" in industry, right?

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Professor in Training said...


At 10:10 AM, Blogger JaneB said...

What would be a new suggestion?? (other than that you should open a new doughnut shop and develop a healthy AND tasty doughnut option with sprinkles, which would clearly benefit the world greatly).

You're in a horrible position: carry on putting up with the crap in your current position, quit, take the gamble of seeking out a new lab and post-doc, apply right left and centre for jobs (which I imagine you are doing? After all, you have to be in to get an interview...) and broaden the net, which is essential in the current market, change your life goals (if you're like me you can't even imagine what another goal might look like when you're stuck in the wheel...). All of these involve loss. And they are all 'non-ideal' choices.

But - !!!unsolicited advice warning!!! - from reading here for over a year now you are getting into a worse emotional state, and I'm worried about you. My advice would be, make a deadline with yourself or your therapist or your significant other or whoever supports you by which you will commit to one of these options seriously, then give it your all for a set period of time - with the fixed intention of changing to another option at the end of that period, if it's not working. Define clear targets that you can measure to see if it is paying off (i.e. stay in current lab - two first author papers by end 2009 - if not achieved, then WILL leave).

None of the options are good, but from what you write here (I know, it's vent space, but still) your current situation is grinding you down unacceptably - you need to change something, because YOU are the only thing you control. And however satisfying it is to tell the funding body what to do to themselves, it doesn't have much effect...

Hope you are getting a good break over Christmas, you REALLY need and DESERVE to get away from the lab!

At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another crackpot here.

I read PiT and you on a daily basis - yup, addict here - and consider both of you mentors.

The difference is PiT has a job. She made it (she's got a while before tenure though!). You and me - thumping our heads against the wall for a ticket on the ride. The ride might suck or might rock, we don't know (shhh, yes, we kinda do).

In a perfect world, I would set up my own damn shop and run my own damn projects - by my damn self with my damn moolah. I am quite capable. In reality, we have to play by the rules established by the boys club and I'm not so good at that. Even back in catholic grade school, I wondered why Mary just HAD TO BE A VIRGIN to get any respect (she's not part of the holy trinity, she's only there for the nativity scene these days). Virginal = didn't *cough* rub any dudes the wrong way. yes, I actually figured out the patriarchy when I was about 10. And decided that it wasn't gonna stop me. I've been nice, I've been naughty... it doesn't matter how women play the game... we need to score, dammit. And that means getting dirty. Fuck the rules. I just read one of the links over on DrugMonkey about advice for grad school... here's the advice from one troll's links: it's better to ask forgiveness than for permission. So, in that spirit: Fuck the rules. (and I might say "oops" later... maybe... probably not... and I won't be sorry).

I'm up against a league of mediocre males who do their damnest to whack me to cover up their mediocrity. That's their MO. They have each other's backs. not mine (and don't want them anywhere NEAR my back!). The great (mostly older) guys in my field tend to work alone and with their buddies from grad school (eons ago). Meanwhile, slacker dude after dude puts each other on their crappy papers while they are "working" on everything on the fucking planet. and getting funded for their shitty "work" - give me a break.

Two possible solutions:
1) females should flood the system with NIH/NSF proposals just to get the numbers up there... and I mean FLOOD. open the fucking gates. None of this co-PI shit. PI or BUST. They HAVE to fund at least some of us. Even the mediocre ones, the whiny bitchez, the fun flirty ones, the care bears fan club ones... some will break through. It's not about quality, how high scores are, do we have a lobbyist on the review panel or not...absolute total shit gets through. we need NUMBERS, submit submit submit submit. submit shit! submit something! anything!!!!

2) WALK AWAY IN MASS NUMBERS. MASS EXITS. Stop submitting proposals. Let the pipe go dry (this is already happening). The huge disparity between men and women funding totals by federal agencies (who supposedly give a shit about equality!, yeah, ok) shows THEY aren't doing their part to level the field. Say "fuck it" and "fuck you" and go make some donuts. I did...seriously. Alot less pay, mindnumbing, and I still felt like I was going in circles. Well, I was making them... lots of them. lots. I mean, shit, they keep saying we get out of science to make babies.... why not make donuts? cooking, ovens, it's all domestic.

I vote for option 1. I have current NSF funding. I am on the faculty (non-tt) b/c of my funding. I'm going to write up another proposal (not kill myself over it) but it's n=1. My boss will be pissed, but I refer to previous advice about oops.

This is about fighting smarter. We can do this - it just won't be pretty or a fucking care bears tea party. Break the dishes.

I hope every female grad student and postdoc reads these blogs - I wish I had them years ago. I would have ammo'd up back then.

Another suggestion: we need to get more women on NSF/NIH review panels! SIGN UP!11!11!!1! Call up the Program Director and ask to be a reviewer. DO IT NOW. And then you'll have some (albeit minute) say as to which assholes don't get funded and which of your buddies do (because newsflash: this IS the way it works!).

Another suggestion: call up the Editor of your favorite journal and ask to be Assoc Editor. I did - and I am. and yes, I called the head honcho and was given a stack of papers that day. The shitty ones went ka-boom. fast. And the editor likes my slash-and-burn method. He wants quality and slackers need not submit. Me too.

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous microfool said...

what is the intended parsing of this sentence?
"Fuck you, NIH and grad school."

It's ambiguous, but it could be interpreted as "Fuck you PiT".

Please tell me I am wrong.

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: industry opportunities go right now, biotech is seeking a bailout.



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