Working hard

Patricia S. Bowne pbowne at omnifest.uwm.edu
Wed Mar 12 22:10:34 EST 1997


Caroline wrote:

>I totally agree with you that one can accomplish a lot outside of the
>lab.  As a postdoc, however, I surely get the impression that "face
>time" in the lab is very important.  The perception of some is that if
>you're not to be seen, you're not working....unfair, but I tend to deal
>with it by playing the game....making sure to be here always at least
>during "normal hours" and often on off hours.  Of course, the most
>important thing is to get the work done, but if it's best for me
>politically to do it when everyone else is around, unfortunately, that's
>what I do.

I agree completely with her point! But let's not just label it as 
'playing the game' and 'politics' and 'unfortunate' until we've looked
at what the game really is, in the world where you get your first
job as a faculty member or a PI.

All this perception stuff is about what kind of person your peers
will think you are, based on the evidence they gather about you.
Will they know you as a person, or as a list of publications that
mysteriously appears from midnight hours in the lab? What will
spring to their minds when your name is mentioned? Will 
they think of coming to you to get your opinion of some decision
that might affect your work, or will they forget you exist? 

When you're involved in making decisions, will you know who they
affect and what those people's interests are? Will you have a clear
idea of the institution's mission and how your work fits into it, and
will you have explained this to the people who are in charge? Will
those people trust your judgement in general?

I think seeing this political stuff as 'unfortunate' is rather parallel to
seeing the touchy-feely stuff of keeping a family together as
unimportant, so long as you put food on the table. 
I hope that as there are more women in science, there
will be more scientists who appreciate the need to pay attention to
institutional climate. Then there will be fewer schools like one I 
attended, where top-rank scientists punched one another out in 
the parking lot and colleagues studying the same system refused
to speak to one another in the halls!

Pat Bowne



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