Tue Apr 15 10:03:05 EST 1997

Aloisia wrote:
>And maybe this is more to the point.  When you all are feeling really 
>and really down in the dumps, because maybe you haven't produced as 
>as you feel you should have or because you are having to deal with 
>creeps....(and I mean surly creeps beyond all comprehension!)....  What
>are the ways you all talk yourself back into being positive and up-beat
>and motivated to keep on working?

Does this ever hit home!  I've been hitting the wall on 3 experiments 
for 4 months now, watching my defense slip farther and farther into the 
future, and getting really down.  I just read a popular magazine article 
about how women (more than men) tend to get these little negative tapes 
going in their heads. For me, they say things like "I'll never be able 
to do that", "I'm not a good scientist",  "I wasn't cut out for 
research", etc.  One of the suggestions given was to write your own 
positive tapes.  Note, this isn't trying to deny reality, just making my 
brain adjust to the fact that being unable to successfully clone the 3 
prime end of a gene the first few tries DOES NOT mean I'm a lousy 
scientist.  So I'm trying to repeat "I'm a careful scientist.  I'm good 
at what I do.  I can learn things I don't know.  It's OK to make a 
mistake.  I'll figure this out and then be proud of myself", etc., while 
tackling the problem.  I can't say it's made the science go better (I've 
only been at this a few days since I read the article) but at least I'm 
not scanning the want ads for a "PhD dropouts needed" section anymore :)

I think this is reflective of a bigger problem, though.  While this is a 
gross oversimplification, in my own experience with fellow grad 
students, it seems like many women magnify every failure to the point 
where they're always sure they're the most unqualified student in the 
department, while many men gloss over glaring failures, chalking it up 
to bad committee members or poor equipment, and see themselves as Nobel 
prize material. Neither one is correct (there's an awful lot of us here 
in the middle), but I wonder if others see these extremes at work?


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