recommendation letters/alternate careers

Leemor Joshua-Tor leemor at CSHL.ORG
Sat Nov 30 14:35:02 EST 1996

Jenn wrote:

>In regards to the other side of the story? (I am unsure if this was your
>comment). I know what happened to me, and yes that is my side of the
>story.  However, the other side is, to me, irrelevant - nobody should be
>driven to the point I was (yes, part was my own fault, I will admit that -
>but my advisor played a huge role in it). And I am sure what Alice has
>seen is similar to other people I know who fall out of favor with their
>advisors (often doing damn good work that disproves a pet theory) and are
>absolutely given hell for it (in various ways).  This, I agree is
>especially bad when women are not supportive of other women.  The comment
>there (other side) is rather ambiguous.  Would you be so kind as to
>clarify?  And,please, tell us who you are; after all it's only fair.

What I meant by the "other side of the story" is the advisor's side.
I am especially referreing to Alice's comments where she expresses
an enourmous amount of outrage and judgement at a person she has
never met or heard her point of view, and I think that is a very
dangerous and unjust approach in every aspect of work and life.
In many cases, reading some of the comments, I find people commenting
on various experiences of others assuming that it is mostly the
advisor's fault. That is a bit childish. It may very well be that
in many cases the advisor was less than perfect, but throughout the
years, I find that many of these situations can be overcome and worked
through if one doesn't let things "cook" for too long and people keep
an open mind.
As a graduate student, one still has a while to prove themselves.
If things don't work out as best as they could have, there are
still oppurtunities to fix that (I didn't have a smooth ride either).

Another point that worries me when reading Alice's comments as
well as Jenn's is about women supporting other women. Yes, women
should be mentors and supportive, but by no means it should be
obvious just by gender. It should be earned. I think we should make
our enviroment friendly and make sure that all the possibilities are
open for female students and postdocs just as they are for males but
it should not be obvious that there should be anything different between
supporting women or men. I am sure that we would all be upset if, for
example, a black advisor would be a lot more supportive of his black
students than his white ones.
This kind of stuff can backfire. And if we are critical of old boys
networks and the like we have to show that we do not do the same.

As for who I am - I am a pretty new PI. I am a protein crystallographer
at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, I moved here from Caltech, where I was
a postdoc, about a year ago. I did part of my education in the US and part
in Israel, and since I am from Israel, I had mandatory military service
for 2.5 years, which I did just before graduate school (yes, men *and*
women have to serve there).
Things were not smooth and a few times seem unfair, but I think that very
few people have it smooth. Most (if not practically all) of my mentors
were men.
I find that my perspective has changed and even during the end of my time
at Caltech, I began to see things quite a bit differently and I hope I
loose both perspectives.


  Leemor Joshua-Tor, Ph.D.
  Assistant Investigator
  Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory           Tel. (516) 367 8821
  1 Bungtown Road                         Fax  (516) 367 8873
  Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724            e-mail: leemor at

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