The posting that noone will read!
jc363 at pantheon.yale.edu
Tue Dec 31 12:26:39 EST 1996
Since it's December 31st, this posting will last only twelve hours....but
it took an hour to write!
I feel myself becoming a case history.
Well, I've done it now... I'm going to take a leave of absence from my PhD
program to take care of my father, who has leukemia.
I have to do this, because I realize that it is worse to do half-hearted
work on science and family duty, than to simply trim down the commitments
and do one thing right. For now, the study will have to go, because even
if I become a successful scientist down the road, if I do not choose the
sacrifice, I won't be able to stand the answer to the question: What kind
of person am I?
This is a hard thing to do, especially as I'm not fresh out of college...
At the age of 26 (admittedly not old, but four years behind my peers
because I was working, having adventures, and travelling) I just went
through hell to get INTO grad school. Okay, so I dawdled on the way, my
own decision, but I suddenly realized that I'm out of leeway-- I'm a goner
academically if I marry my man and have the recombinant offspring that I
ought to have to demonstrate my Darwinian fitness. It's scary. I'm
Some scattered thoughts on this month's postings....
I don't blame the deadwood tenured professors (in Anthropology we used to
call them "silverbacks" or "thrombosis"). Hoo boy, if I neglect all
aspects of my life for science, I will be looking forward to the time when
I get tenure and can sit back, grow a paunch, and scare undergraduates
with forty-year old lecture notes. This is, I think, the traditional
strategy for men and women in science today: pretend you are a manic
genius and work yourself to the point of burnout. If you're lucky, burnout
will occur AFTER you get tenure. Then you can sag (unless you are indeed
a manic genius).
Instead of having a madman work 90 hours a week for a short career, it
would be nice if the strategy were: work hard, 30-50 flexible hours a
week. Then everybody goes home, does their errands, and has a nice dinner
with friends and family. 8 lovely hours of sleep a night! No
discrimination against capable scientists who take time out to have
children or to write that book! Okay, I'm drifting into Utopia here, but
it really seems that the distribution of working hours in science is like
the arms race. We're all afraid that the only way to beat out the crazy
slob at the next bench, who has abandoned care of all bodily needs for the
pursuit of science, is to become a crazier slob. I guess it's more
cost-effective though to give grants to a few people who kill themselves
to do the same amount of work that more people could do, sanely.
Here is a comment to Mr. Wah Chan: I think most people here enjoy your
comments, even the somewhat annoying ones, because you give
us something to chew on. However, I have to say: in your responses to
"Solidarity", and "men, women, and baking" and "SusanB" you evince a
naive belief that women's groups want fairness and equality and lack of
discrimination. Yes, this may be so, but I think that the MEANS of
achieving fairness, equality, and lack of discrimination may well have bo
be unfair, unequal, and discriminating in order to counter the real
biological, socializing, and historical differences in the situations of
men and women (or English-speakers and Chinese-speakers, or whites and
blacks). That's the point behind affirmative action. I am not giving
my opinion on whether I am overall for or against a. a. or "solidarity".
To clarify further, here is an example. Let's say that
traditionally women have trouble saying "no" to the pressures to tidy up,
to be "nice", or to undertake social responsibility. Men may have trouble
saying "no" to the pressures to succeed, to go away to work rather than
working at home. Many women and men are unhappy being forced to fit into
only one of these roles. Nothing will change unless we offer incentives,
rather than punishments, to give people the courage to do what
they really want to do. To solve this, equal treatment from schools and
hirers from cradle to grave may be good, but still won't CHANGE anything
that is a result of societal prejudices.
Another example, from one Asian-American to another: would it
make sense to teach Chinese immigrant students to America MORE Chinese?
Or should we give both Chinese and native English speakers remedial
classes in English? Or might it not be better to give the Chinese
students classes in English, and maybe give the English speakers classes
in Chinese, or at least classes in understanding the problems that
immigrants have in moving from one society and language to another.
Finally, I have a big problem with fairness, when fairness
isn't good. Like, we all die, which is as just as things get, but it still
Getting morbid here, so I'll sign off... Thanks for reading,
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