Working hard

Annette C. Hollmann ah690549 at
Thu Mar 6 12:08:22 EST 1997

In article <3318181A.4D48 at> forsburg at writes:
>Patricia S. Bowne wrote:
 >> Why do we accept that scientists
 >> just naturally are going to put in 60-80+ hours a
 >> week? Why do we train our grad students to expect
 >> this from themselves and others, when we all know
 >> it's a strike against women in the lab, at least as
 >> long as women expect to put in a lot of their time
 >> maintaining families?
 >> This 'do whatever it takes' attitude is one of the reasons
 >> so many women become techs instead of going on to be
 >> PIs; it was designed in a period when the scientist
 >> was assumed to be a man with a wife at home taking
 >> care of the kids. How long are we going to
 >> continue to buy into it?
 >Well, is it any different for any other profession? 
 >Law, for example?  Or medicine?  Or any high powered
 >creative line of work?
 >-- susan, as usual a devil's advocate.....  

Rather than medicine and low, science should be classified with sports and
music. Only a select few get to be the superstars, but everyone wants to
be one. This sets up the situation for escalating competition.
Just look at the figure skating world, which is the most extreme
situation. Kids start training at age 3, and spend so many hours on the
ice that they have to be tutored at home instead of going to school.If
they haven't made it by the time they are 18, they usually won't -
training is so intensive that one can't work and train at the same time.
To be a superstar in science, many people try to do the same thing - work
until they drop in the hope of getting that lucky break. The only
difference is that in science, the crunch comes during adulthood, where
people don't have anyone to take care of the mundane details of life for

I deal with both science and skating (speed, not figure) in the same way -
work as hard as I can without damaging my physical or mental health. If I
end up in first place, that's great - but if I end up last I still know
that I did my best, regardless of what anyone else says.

Lawyers and doctors, on the other hand, may go through a few years of
gruelling schedules, almost like an extended period of hazing - but once
they have made it thaey can put in substantially less than 40 hours a week
and still be rolling in money. They can screw up with impunity, and nobody
can do much to them.
I have a 20 % loss of function in one hand because some lazy M.D. didn't
feel like doing surgery on a Sunday afternoon. and splinted my wrist
without setting it properly. Because the original X-rays disappeared, and
I disappeared from his files, there's nothing I can do to him.


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