Science careers and moving

Bharathi Jagadeesh bjag at cog.nimh.nih.gov
Wed Jun 19 09:55:19 EST 1996


Sue Slechta (Slechta at biology.utah.edu) wrote:
[stuff clipped]
: I have been following this thread with a good deal of interest.  As a
: fairly young, childless, unmarried graduate student, I was amazed at the
: level of complaints from others about the simple fact that young
: scientists are expected to move to advance their career.  Nobody ever hid
: this fact from me, I was quite aware of it from the very beginning of my
: graduate career decision.  In fact, that, to me, was one of the
: advantages.

I too have enjoyed moving around, undergrad, grad, and post-doc in
very different places (west coast, midwest, east coast) at
very different institutions (small, strictly science oriented institute,
fairly large private university, and a governemnt research lab).
This has been very good for me. I've met different kinds of students
enjoyed different environments. I even like the fact that I've lived
through hot humid August in DC and mind-numbingly cold winters in
Chicago. 

Nevertheless, I think that there are many students attend
graduate school without understanding how much moving there will be
and how long it will be before they can settle down in one location.
If you understand this, it's great, but there's nothing wrong with
trying to make sure that everyone understands it. 

: I'm sure it is very difficult for two career families when
: one of the careers demands moving around, but in science, this is a known
: problem.  I really believe that if both partners can't agree on some
: reasonable way to accomodate both careers, one person will have to make
: the sacrifice, or maybe they should not stay together.  Is this harsh? 
: Probably.  But every career type has its own type of sacrifices that need
: to be made, regardless of sex.  If you want to be a research scientist, be
: prepared to move around for a while.  

I would be interesting in hearing (from someone who is just starting
out) how long you think it'll take before you're settled in one place?

: Bad rules should be complained about, or broken, but this is
: not a bad, or descriminating rule.  It is one of the
: mainstays and definitions of science; always growing, always changing.

As Rae Nishi has pointed out from her experience, review committes are
concerned with the growth and change (not the physical
location). With this kind of application, this is not a very
harsh rule and one that most of us think is an intrinisic
part of science. On hearing the discussion of the problem, I have
to agree with those who see flexibility in moving to different
labs as an intrinsic part of the training.

But I do think that when we consider such a rule, and see that it
has a different effect on men and women (for example) we should carefully
examine it, to make sure that it has a sound, rational basis, and
is being fairly applied. In the history of irrational discrimination,
there are clearly bad rules, and others where the badness was
hidden. 

Bharathi

--
Bharathi Jagadeesh/bjag at ln.nimh.nih.gov

Lab of Neuropsychology
NIMH
Building 49, Room 1b80
Bethesda, Maryland 20892

(312) 496-5625 x270




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