Life Angst, or is there life outside lab and should t

ebarak at NSF.GOV ebarak at NSF.GOV
Fri Aug 5 16:31:58 EST 1994

Beatriz:  I wonder if your male "friend" was really thinking of your 
best interests when he counselled you not to work on weekends.  This 
is not unlike a newly-recruited young lawyer in a law firm telling his 
equally new colleague "not to work too hard" --- which one is going to 
make partner?  and why?

Top-notch faculty positions for young scientists are scarce as hens' 
teeth, and the competition for those positions is fierce.  It's not 
unheard of for a single position announcement to bring in over 400 
applications, at least 10% of which are absolutely A+.  If you're 
serious about your career, you need publications, and you need your 
mentor to think extremely well of you.  It's one thing if you can do 
it all in a 40-hour week, but how many people can?  Certainly not many 
of those bright, ambitious young lawyers looking to make partner in 
good law firms!  And certainly not too many of the bright, ambitious 
young scientists-in-training.  

That's not to say you can't have a life outside the lab.  Of course 
you can.  And should.  All work and no play makes Jane both boring and 
neurotic, not to mention less creative than she might otherwise be 
(and creativity still accounts for most of "success" in science!).  
But to actively avoid weekend labwork just for the sake of avoiding it 
sounds even dumber than being a workaholic.  

The bizarre comments from your professors that you described sound 
more like sexism than anything else.  Do they give the male students 
the same nonsensical hard time if they get haircuts?  Or go out on 
dates?  Or go on group beer-drinking binges Friday nights?  Or wear 
clean T-shirts?  Or play volleyball? or whatever else it is that guys 

Just my opinion.


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 When I went to do a postdoc 3 years ago, a male friend of mine told 
me not to work in the weekends (at least at the beginning) or stay 
late at night. The reason, if you do it at the beginning they will 
expect that from you and the day you don't do it it will seem as
if there is a drop in your performance.

 Professors would comment to me how it was obvious I was not dedicated 
to my studies because I cared too much about wearing trendy (not 
expensive) clothes, how come I had time to do my nails? And how was it 
possible that when I was writing my thesis I always had clean hair?! 
They assumed that if one wasn't full of dandruff and the hair was all 
greasy (clear sign that you were writing all day!) you were not 
working hard enough.


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