Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Ok, so I made a report about this guy, finally. Unfortunately the person handling the case isn't allowed to disclose anything, so the conversation went something like this:

her: "Someone has made a complaint and we think you might know something about the situation."
me: "And you're not allowed to tell me who it was or what it was about, are you."
her: "No."
me: "Well, I should have reported this a long time ago anyway, so I'm assume this is what it's about...." etc.

At the end of the discussion:

me: "Well I hope that helps you, but I don't suppose you're allowed to tell me that, either."
her: "No. If all goes well, you'll never hear from me again."

So not only am I not sure who filed what complaint against whom, but I won't know if any punishment is meted out at all. Bummer.

And for the person who asked if I could assume it was a guy, they actually post the statistics of reported complaints for every year. Last year there were 5 PAGES full of complaints for our university. Only one was brought by a guy, and it was about another guy.

Anyway I was a little shaken up after I made this report. The woman was very understanding and I wasn't upset or anything, but it was kind of a big deal to admit yes, I think I was discriminated against.

Definitely don't do that every day.

She gave me her card and asked me to contact her if I think of anything else. Well let's see. I started doing martial arts while I was working in that lab. I never had any desire to do that previously. I also started reading books like "Women Scientists in America" and "Lifting a Ton of Feathers." I think I knew it was really bad, but I kept trying to ignore it. That's what I told her. I knew he was being sexist but it was subtle enough that I was able to try to ignore it.

But I must have been really pissed off, and I knew it. I realized this when I started in my new lab and I suddenly had a lot less desire to kick things.

In other news, speaking of kicking things, I am locked in a battle of wills with Microsoft Word. Yes, the grant is almost done. Yes, the deadline is a hard one, I absolutely have to get it finished. Yes, I am also trying to do job applications at the same time. Yes, I am a bit stressed.

But I gotta ask: isn't there something better to use for layout? And don't say LaTeX, I'm just not ready for that yet. Not this time around, anyway.

Anybody use PageMaker or something like that for these things? Anything where I have 20+ figures of random shapes and sizes, on only about 20 pages of text, suddenly things get really messy. I finally realized that Word assumes you'll have more text than figures, and that's where my problems come in. And pretty soon (like, probably today) I'm going to have to pick a fight with Endnote, too. That's really the only reason I'm using Word. Somebody needs to come up with a stripped-down package for inserting references in other word processing programs.

I really do think writing grants would be relatively painless if we had templates that made it easy to insert figures, callouts, references, etc. Right now I think the average person has to spend more time formatting than actually thinking about the experiments. In fact, my boyfriend is a computer whiz so I can always get him to help me when I'm really stuck. What on earth does everybody else do??

BTW, if you haven't seen it yet, check out "Bridges to Independence" from the National Academy. You can read it for free online. The more I read it, the more I like it.


At 8:12 AM, Blogger Five said...

I'm in the exact same situation with graphics! (except I'm the computer whiz who helps). Using word is terrible, but it's also the only format you'll be able to easily transfer to others in your lab.

If you dan't need to share I'd suggest using InDesign. If you aren't that comfortable with the program (and assuming your boyfriend is), you could work on setting up a few basic templates. It would take some time to learn (Visual Quickstart is a good series of books to have by your side), but will be well worth it.

At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The treatment of the complaint sounds worthy of a Kafka novel. They came to you to see if you had anything to tell them, without naming the accused or accusor or the initial complaint? Just looking for some action?

I must have missed something in the description. I know for a fact that at UCLA, if there is a complaint, they go to the people who might be witnesses and ask about the specific people involved, and the specific incidents in question, although protecting the identity of the accusor as far as possible.


At 8:35 PM, Blogger Adam Solomon said...

No LaTeX? I don't know, I'd reconsider that. I'm 16 and I can use TeX as well as I can use MS Word, lol so it's definitely not tough to learn...And it's a great tool once you get the hang of it. But then again, I'm in a very TeX-heavy field--what do people in your field usually use?

At 10:45 AM, Blogger BotanicalGirl said...

Sorry to hear that everything was so cloak and dagger about the report.

I never made an official report about my ex-PI, but I made sure that I spoke to several influential faculty members and made it very clear why I was leaving. If shit ever hits the fan with him, they'll have prior knowledge.


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