Archive for: January, 2012

Is it just me?

Jan 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I am at the point now where my grant is approaching submittable. As in, I have to submit it in a few days. Every time I get to this point I am deeply convinced that what I have written is a giant pile of shite words. I feel bad for the poor reviewer that will have to read (at least part) of it.

Even though I know that at least some of what I write is not so bad, right now I am convinced my grant is a steaming pile of crap. I really hope that I grow out of this someday.

I am very much looking forward to next week, when I can't think about this anymore.

7 responses so far

Kate Clancy is putting together a internet-derby team!

Jan 25 2012 Published by under gender

Hey all, just lifting my head above the rising water that is this grant application for a second. In the craziness, I almost missed the fact that Kate Clancy has a post up about Blogging While Female. You should all go over there and read it, then sign up to join her posse. I was resistant to jumping through the registration hoop at SciAm, but she convinced me.

No responses yet

seriously? who writes this stuff?

Jan 21 2012 Published by under academia, gender

"The application should be no more than 3 pages. They need not be in the detail requested by NIH for R01 grants"

Is it just me, or are those two sentences stupidly redundant?

3 responses so far

LEGO gets told

Jan 20 2012 Published by under awesomeness

Many of you have probably heard that LEGO has recently decided to make some "girl-specific" LEGO sets. When I heard about this, I was a little peeved. I LOVED playing with LEGOs when I was a kid. My mom still has a big box of my LEGOs that Mini-G and I play with when we visit. I always considered LEGOs to be gender-neutral. Apparently I'm not the only one that thinks you don't need to change LEGO for them to be appropriate for girls to play with. And one of them, Ann Garth (who happens to be a 14-year old who may be one of the most awesome people on the planet) wrote to LEGO about it. In the letter, she makes a lot of good points. For example:

If you want to appeal to girls, create more sets. Expand your horizons. But instead of expanding into stereotypical girl territory, try hooking a bunch of boys as well by creating a library set, a computer room set, or a boat set. What about one with a soccer field, or a pool? Or- and I know that this may be shocking- what about simply giving kids the same old blocks in the same old colors and letting us make beautiful?

A fantastic letter, written by an awesome young woman. Are you listening, LEGO?





2 responses so far

SOPA sucks, PIPA is putrid

Jan 18 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Yes, I know that alliteration is not the same as a blackout. I do not have the technical ability to black-out my website. Whatev. Take some time today to learn about SOPA and PIPA. They seem like a bad idea to me, so I called my senator and told them how I felt. If you have views of your own, maybe you can find some time today to make a call yourself. Sure you can just enter your name on the Google page. But if you really want to get some attention, send a personal email or pick up the phone. After all, it's not like you can waste your time on Reddit or Wikipedia.

The Oatmeal makes a more convincing case:


4 responses so far

Sometimes people are just assholes

Jan 11 2012 Published by under academia, gender

The other day my new lab had a happy hour to ring in the new year. I have also just landed a new grad student (WOO HOO) and also convinced a super-awesome high-level research scientist* to join my group. I'm seriously psyched. 🙂

While my newly-expanded group was all sitting around a table I realized all of the sudden that we are overwhelmingly female. Including undergrads and rotation students right now we are 7 women and 1 man. Weird! When I first started my lab we were pretty close to 1:1 but when numbers are small it is easy to fluctuate pretty quickly, I guess. I'm really happy with my group right now. Everyone is engaged and works together really well. I don't really care how many X or Y chromosomes we have.

Shortly after noticing that my lab had skewed in one direction someone on twitter made a comment about how the gender distribution of their lab was skewed (I'm not sure who started the thread-the first one in my timeline is @27andaphd). As expected with low n numbers, there were labs that were mostly male, and some that were mostly female. No big deal, right. But then the conversation took a weird turn. Someone* mentioned that they were in a male-dominated group and that this was good because they don't like to work with women because "I'm a hard ass". This was followed by @agreenmonster who tweeted:

I have a big problem here. This is an idea that gets kicked around a lot. The idea that women who are faculty are somehow not as rigorous as their male colleagues. And the ones that are competent are mean or psycho or evil and "pull up the ladder" because they don't want junior women to succeed.


Yes, there are some women academics that are assholes. There are also men down the hall that are assholes. Sometimes, people are just assholes. It has nothing to do with their gender. But there is a common stereotype that women are worse than men. And THIS is the kind of attitude that makes it hard to be a women in the sciences. If you get along with everyone you are "soft" and probably not rigorous. Maternal, maybe. But if you are a hard-ass then you are a "psycho" that is "pulling up the ladder". This is a ridiculous double standard. If this is what you expect from a woman scientist, then this is what you will perceive. It will be a self-fulfilling prophesy And it is FUCKED UP.

There are some shitty mentors out there. Some of them are women. But not all of them. If we only highlight the women that are assholes this leads to a perception that women and men are different. This sets the bar for all women, and it makes the whole academic situation harder. Because now, if you are a woman in academia you might try to behave in such a way that everyone won't think that you are "psycho". Maybe you try not to be aggressive or "bitchy" (the feminine of aggressive, to some). Now you are perceived as less rigorous or engaged. You can't win.

We have to stop this. If you hear this kind of bullshit, call it out. The twitter conversation about this topic ended with everyone agreeing that assholes gonna be assholes. And hopefully convinced some folks that they can't let these kinda statements just fly by without comment.

There is no such thing as a "male" way to do science. There is just culture and the way groups interact. I'm kinda a hard-ass, myself. I've been told that my lab has a pretty "male" culture**. In my group, I expect a lot of people. It's OK to be wrong, because if you are never wrong you are Doing It Wrong. But you have to be willing to defend your ideas and recognize when your arguments fail. Sometimes discussions get pretty animated (even aggressive). But we all understand that, while it is OK to be wrong, it is not OK to be disrespectful. You can tell someone their idea is full of shit, but it's not personal. Attacking ideas is expected, attacking people is not tolerated. There is nothing "male" about that. It is just kick-ass science.


*since they have a protected twitter account I won't list them by name here.

**don't worry-I also make sure the person that said this knew how fucked up it was.

NOTE ADDED IN PROOF: Hermie totally scooped me!!! Make sure that you go and read her views on this, which are spot-on.

[edited to remove my html cheating]

32 responses so far

The appropriate use of your time

Jan 06 2012 Published by under exhaustion, tenure-track OTJT, venting

Today Dr. O used her space on the Guest Blogge to make a record of how she spends her day. A commenter, Moss, was quick to point out how inefficient she was at using her time. I couldn't agree more.* Since I know that Dr. O is going to be starting her tenure-track position soon I thought I would show her the right way to use her time by sharing how I spend my day**:

4:30 am: Jump out of bed without an alarm because I'm just so damn excited to start working!
4:35 am: shower while listening to news on NPR [pro-tip: if you are only doing one thing at a time it is a total waste].
4:45 am: call labbies to make sure that they are on their way to lab while making coffee [now that I'm a PI it is my job to make sure the folks in lab are Doing Science].
4:50 am: drink coffee, scan through new papers on Pubmed or in TOC.
6:00 am: go for a run
7:00 am: get Mini-G ready for school
7:30 am: catch bus to take Mini-G to school, drink more coffee
8:00 am: get to lab. Check in on labbies, making sure to point out new papers they should have read as I saw them over 3 hours ago.
8:15 am: write grant
12:00: eat lunch at faculty seminar
1:30: back in lab. help rotation student set up experiments, make sure grad students have read the papers I mentioned before.
2:00: work on grant
5:00: work on grant some more
7:00: walk to bus stop. Miss bus. Get a sandwich and beer while waiting for next bus. Read ms sent to me for review.
8:00: get home, a little too late for bed time.
8:10: work on grant
11:00: grant not making sense. Start reading grad student applications.
1:00: go to bed.

Now clearly I'm still a n00b here. I'm sure that there are folks out there that can help me be even MOAR efficient. The most important thing to realize is that as scientists we have a very important job. There is simply NO EXCUSE for wasting your time with stupid things that are not Doing Science. I would ask how you all manage to be so efficient and such, but I'm sure that no one is wasting their time reading this blog.



*I also appreciate that s/he made a point about the waste of time that blogging is by...commenting on a blog. Just fantastic!

**I sure hope that Moss can help me find unimportant things to cut out of my day so I can be a better scientist, too!

edited to fix links (I hope)

28 responses so far

Not the time to say No

Jan 05 2012 Published by under academia, tenure-track OTJT

Hey everyone! I'm still buried under my grant. I'm trying desperately to beat it into submission. Right now I think the odds are pretty even about who is going to win, but I'm working hard to not get beaten up too bad. I'm lucky to have supportive friends like Namnezia and PLS to make me feel better about freaking out. Here are their responses to one of my tweets (read from the bottom up):

Fig. 1: thanks, guys...I think

That's right. I might be peaking in my freaking. Awesome. While I duke it out with this grant, though, I realize that some of you out there are having your own struggles. One tweet earlier today caught my attention, from @dr_gena:

I agree with PLS's reaction to this that turning down an interview isn't really a good idea. Negotiating a two-body problem can be tough, even if the other body is not looking for a spot on the tenure-track. And it may very well be that there is not really anything for Body #2 at this institution. But (as mentioned by @SciTriGirl), interviews are about more than just trying to get a job. Interviewing for tenure-track positions is a networking gold mine. You will get to speak to a lot of people, some who are very important. You will automatically be on the radar as a person that is "good" (I mean, you interviewed in their Dept., right?) and as a new independent PI. So I say, go to interviews. You never really know what is going to happen until it does. There can be surprises. At the very least you get practice interviewing, have a chance to market yourself and may even get an offer that you can use for negotiating.

My advice: keep your options open, and don't limit your possibilities before you even have the offer.

What do you all think? Are there good reasons NOT to accept an interview when you are on the job market?




18 responses so far