Putting up with it or dropping out

Deborah A. Cook dcook at cau.edu
Tue Dec 16 18:12:07 EST 1997


Susan Forsburg writes:
> Upon thinking about it, I think this attrition may reflect that every
> woman (or man for that matter) has a certain level of tolerance 
> for the slings and arrows of the profession. The road is tougher
> for women, and we have to put up with a lot more. Ultimately
> there is a straw that breaks you and it just isn't worth putting
> up with it any more. 

As an oddly demanding semester concludes for me, I've had reason to
reflect upon this issue because of my experiences. I agree with Susan
completely, that there is only so much any person can take, but women
have to take much more.  It gets worse if you are also a spouse and a
parent, because of balancing the demands of the academic career with the
family life.

One thing that I think is absent in academic science is validation.  An
earlier thread touched on this in terms of looking for the negative in
journal clubs as well as other areas of academic science.  I think women
leave science because we don't get enough praise.  We take and take the
crap and finally when something good happens, nobody notices.  I'm not
talking about getting all warm and fuzzy here, and putting on my rose
colored glasses.  I mean real, day to day stuff, like "I heard your
grant got funded" or "I like your creative approach in general biology."
A little of this can go a long way for both women and men.  Rather, we
get the negative,"You haven't published that yet!" or "we can't consider
your recently awarded grant because it wasn't in your tenure file
beforehand."

Academic science has gotten way too negative.  I think we need to
recognize that the competition for funds is stiff.  I can deal with that
as a PI.  What bothers me is the more grants, more publications attitude
>From administrators, who refuse to recognize how hard it is and then
don't praise people for being successful in spite of it.

Deb Cook



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