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  1. Like
    mockturtle reacted to TakeruK in Unpaid adjunct faculty   
    This is disgusting.
    My normal position is that I usually advocate for the freedom for people to make their own choices and decisions that reflect their priorities and goals. The main reason I would stray from this position is if doing so would cause more harm than good. This is a case where I would make an exception to my normal position.
    I would never accept these ridiculously exploitative labour conditions. Furthermore, I would not only make this choice for myself, but I would actively discourage anyone I knew from making such a decision. Doing so harms the entire academic labour workforce, in my opinion. 
    The fact that this school has already put out this "job" ad only further strengthens my resolve that all academic labour should be unionized and protected. With a proper collective agreement, it should not be possible for the University to hire someone outside of the union to do union-protected work (i.e. if the school wants a worker to do faculty-like work, then they must confer the same benefits and protections to the worker as they would a faculty member, even if it's temporary). 
  2. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to fuzzylogician in Gender Discrimination   
    The person is not invalidating anyone's experiences by asking more questions, but by not listening to the answers.
    I'm glad I stayed out of the debate since it went precisely as I had predicted. But a short version of my reply to some of the more outrageous posts above would be as follows: I don't have a penis, and don't expect to grow one any time soon (nor would I want to). Any system that inherently advantages men simply by virtue of them being men is one that I would fight against, because it inhibits my own growth and development, as well as that of my students and friends. The idea that I should "adjust" to a system that disfavors me by its very nature could only be uttered by someone blinded by their own privilege. The (wrongheaded!) belief that e.g. women aren't good decision makers or whatever other bullshit was written above is a symptom of this ailing system. Recasting the debate in terms of "evidence" (male) vs "emotion" (female) is likewise misguided. But in my experience having this kind of discussion is simply useless: it's too abstract. Young men, find a young female scholar (poc scholar, disabled scholar, etc) near you -- a fellow student, a postdoc in your lab, an assistant professor, etc -- buy her a coffee and *ask her* about her experiences. *Listen* to the experiences of women in your field. Do some reading. Develop an awareness. It's totally fine to be skeptical and ask questions, but you have to be willing to listen to the answers. Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not happening. 
  3. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to TheWalkingGrad in Gender Discrimination   
    You're denying that there is gender discrimination that favors men in academia. Aren't you?
    I'm not ignoring what you said, but other people have already responded to that when you first raised those arguments, so I figured if you didn't get it the first time, there would be no point in repeating it.
    I'm not making an emotional argument, I'm pointing out that you don't have emotional intelligence to understand an issue that does not affect you.
  4. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to rising_star in Gender Discrimination   
    Are you seriously saying that women are incapable of making decisions quickly? Wow! You must know that such generalized beliefs are a clear example of the biases which you personally possess against women.
    P.S. Your crude language? Precisely an example of the biases which keep women out of STEM and other male-dominated fields.
  5. Like
    mockturtle got a reaction from TwirlingBlades in Venting Thread- Vent about anything.   
    Got an RA position in my absolute dream lab last fall, planned to apply to grad school this year with all the ~new insight and experience~ I'd supposedly have gained by this point... and right now I'm still struggling to get even the most basic introduction to the lab's research methods, like any training whatsoever, much less a project of my own to sink my teeth into. I was warned by multiple people that this lab's environment was crazy, so maybe I don't get to complain, but didn't think it would amount to having to beg and plead to be given the opportunity to do any research. For the first time in my life I'm underworked and somehow it's 100x worse than the alternative. Half-seriously wishing I could drop it all, become a park ranger, and go live in a shack in the woods (at least I'd have a pretty view while I wasted my time).
  6. Like
    mockturtle reacted to Psygeek in The Positivity Thread   
    I got in. I dont know what just happened today
  7. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to lemma in Gender Discrimination   
    I've literally been told all of this BS to my face from people in academia, so even if this guy is a troll, there are a lot of people who legitimately believe this. 
    (And yeah, it really hurts to be on the other end of this when you've worked so hard. It can feel degrading. I have an honors ivy quant degree, a perfect GRE, a first-author paper submitted to Science, olympiad background, years of research and industry experience... but apparently that's not enough and all the smart men don't get into programs because of the dumb women like me taking their place.)
  8. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to AB121212 in Gender Discrimination   
    Perhaps the woman with the same application as you was not accepted above her abilities, but rather you were rejected from a position you could have otherwise earned for the sense of entitlement, argumentative attitude, and lack of scientific understanding you've shown here.
    If you have "observed a consistent pattern," could you please share your data? Or is it just another anecdote or two with incomplete information?
  9. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to fuzzylogician in Gender Discrimination   
    I was going to write a thoughtful long response, as someone who is active in advocating against gender discrimination in my field. I have a lot to say, both from personal experience and based on a large dataset I've collected along with a committee I'm active on showing bias in almost all aspects of a woman academic's life once she graduates from college. (Before you ask for the data, it's confidential and we're in the process of writing up a paper, so if you're *actually* curious, ask me about it in a few months.) I'm in a field where there are more women undergraduates and about as many graduate students as male students. But fewer women get onto shortlists for academic positions; in fact, even once on a short list, they are still less likely to get hired than a man on the same list; fewer women currently serve as faculty members; fewer women get chosen to present papers at conferences; fewer women have their papers published in peer-reviewed journals; fewer women get invited to contribute to handbook articles, which feature the top scholars in the field giving an overview of their main research topic(s); fewer women are invited speakers at conferences; fewer women get their work funded by government agencies. I could go on.
    But this poster thinks that being a woman magically opens all doors for a candidate, from sample size N=1, and not even having a full picture of that particular one. To which all I can say is, Wow. 
  10. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to TakeruK in Gender Discrimination   
    @samman1994: I just want to point out that the types of biases I'm talking about are unconscious biases, which by their nature, are not immediately obvious/observable. Here's an example from my field, where the analysis shows that male applicants for time on the Hubble Space Telescope are still more likely to win time than women, even accounting for the difference in the number of men and women applicants. Article: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bubble-telescope-time-gender-bias/ The article shares the experiences of the reviewers, none of whom thought they saw any bias or unfairness. Although I have seen some overt sexism (e.g. a prof saying that they always rate women students poorly for their lab because they often go and have babies so they are less productive), the thing that makes it hard to address is that there is unconscious bias at play, which is harder to fix.
    As for the Hubble Space Telescope, the next step is to evaluate the proposals in a dual-anonymous way (i.e. proposers don't know the reviewers, which is already the case, but now the reviewers will also not know who proposed for time). We'll see if that makes a difference!
  11. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to TakeruK in Gender Discrimination   
    I agree and I apologize if I implied that a mismatch of the gender distribution of graduate students and the general population means there is discrimination at the graduate admissions level.
    (Aside: I do, however, think that each field of academia should have roughly equal distribution in demographics of academics as the general population. One reason is that people are often personally motivated to do research, often in areas of disease treatment etc. Another is that it is my opinion that the only point of doing any research is to benefit humanity and therefore, the people doing the research should represent humanity, not just a subset of humans who have the opportunity to do so. However, this is problem at a much larger level and I'd say it is beyond the scope of whether there is bias at the graduate admissions level or not.)
    Back to the scope of this thread: The "control group" we must compare to is the pool of which the graduate applicants come from. So, if you accept the basic premise that men and women are equally brilliant**, then you would expect that the demographics of people accepted into grad school should match the demographics of people applying to grad school. If we do not see this, then there is something introducing bias at the admissions committee step. This is why I also brought up the fields medal example. The fraction of women in Math is much more than 1 in 56, yet the Fields Medal has only been awarded to a woman once in 56 times.
    The bias could be many things, including unconscious ones due to the committee choices, conscious ones due to prejudiced committee members, and systematic ones that unfairly favour men over women that aren't directly in the control of the committee. An example of the last one is GRE scores. Findings from ETS show that men score higher than women. Again, if you accept the premise that men and women are equal, the only logical conclusion is that the test is biased to favour men. Incorporating these metrics into the evaluation means the committee will (knowingly or not) favour men.
    Why does everyone think it is happening if no one can actually provide evidence for it. That doesn't sound like logical thinking to me and this also leads to observation/confirmation bias. I have had colleagues comment on the gender bias in conference sessions (i.e. "too many women were speaking") but when you actually count, it was representative of the field. When the norm is under-representation, equal-representation appears to be over-representation.
    Also, I want to address this point too. I think you are setting up an unrealistic imaginary scenario and then trying to draw conclusions from it to apply to circumstances you appear to be observing in the math departments. For any pool of applications to grad school, it is very unlikely for two applicants to be otherwise identical.
    However, there have been lots of actual studies done where reviewers/evaluators get two applications/proposals/resumes/etc. that are indeed identical, except for the name, and the result is that men are picked much more often than women. Here is an example. Same resume, different gender for a STEM job: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/unofficial-prognosis/study-shows-gender-bias-in-science-is-real-heres-why-it-matters/
  12. Like
    mockturtle got a reaction from AllieKat in Venting Thread- Vent about anything.   
    Got an RA position in my absolute dream lab last fall, planned to apply to grad school this year with all the ~new insight and experience~ I'd supposedly have gained by this point... and right now I'm still struggling to get even the most basic introduction to the lab's research methods, like any training whatsoever, much less a project of my own to sink my teeth into. I was warned by multiple people that this lab's environment was crazy, so maybe I don't get to complain, but didn't think it would amount to having to beg and plead to be given the opportunity to do any research. For the first time in my life I'm underworked and somehow it's 100x worse than the alternative. Half-seriously wishing I could drop it all, become a park ranger, and go live in a shack in the woods (at least I'd have a pretty view while I wasted my time).
  13. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to Neek in Anyone else starting PhD with chronic illness?   
    I'm in my second year, have dealt with chronic illness (mainly a cluster of symptoms around chronic fatigue and pain) at varying degrees of severity since 2012. Being in graduate school with chronic illness can be very hard, especially because many of the hegemonic narratives about how one should do grad school involve notions of working all the time, neglecting one's physical health b/c working all the time, etc. First, don't buy into any of those narratives. They're not true. This is real life and we should all be engaging in some kind of balance, chronically ill or not. Second, I definitely felt the questions of is it going to even be possible/am I even capable of getting through grad school, particularly in my first year. I now feel a little more solid on that, but I would say find out who your allies are--perhaps other students in your department, perhaps some faculty. It can be nice to know who it is safe to discuss how health issues are shaping your ability to do work--many professors are okay with that, but not all, so it can be good to carefully get a sense for each individual professor's attitudes.
    Obviously specifics of what to do depend on your symptoms or what exacerbates your illness, but a few things I do to make sure I keep my health relatively manageable include sleeping enough, eating well, and taking time to just rest even when it seems like the pressures of grad school say those things are "too much to ask." Also, don't compare yourself to others--first of all, people are always facing more challenges than they ever seem to be when you look at them from the outside, and second of all, each person does things in their own way and at their own pace. Comparing your chronically ill self to others is just a recipe for feeling shitty about yourself (I say this even as I still slip into this mode of comparison sometimes).
    Being chronically ill among predominantly young people who appear to be mostly healthy can be isolating. I haven't solved that one yet. If you're lucky the people in your department turn out to be good friends (since you'll be spending much of your time with then), but that may not be the case, especially depending on their attitudes toward whatever rhythms you seek as a result of chronic illness. I'm still trying to sort this one out...I feel very lonely a lot of the time and feel like there is no space for acknowledging my status as being a chronically ill grad student...hence my searching on grad cafe to see if there was anyone else out there. I'd love to talk further with folks going through this stuff--even if just to create a sense of solidarity and a sense that chronic illness in grad students isn't unheard of.
  14. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to ssfgrad in Potential Laboratory Sabotage   
    I got into the new lab!  This lab is even more tailor made for me than the last lab.  If anything I am annoyingly tenacious, so that definitely helped me through the application process. I wanted to post this update because so many people in this thread helped me through one of the darkest times in my career.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Also, to those that private messaged me expressing that they were having similar experiences, please trust your gut.  If your gut says "run", run. There will always be other opportunities out there.  If I had stayed in that lab my work would have been subpar and the stress would have taken years off of my life.  Now, I am onto better and brighter things.   
  15. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to ssfgrad in Potential Laboratory Sabotage   
    Thanks for all of the help everyone.  This thread was really the only place I could talk about this for a while.  I did resign, and I do not have another lab lined up.  I am a non-traditional student, with a family and a house.  It will take me a couple of years to logistically prepare for a move to another university.  I can now say, I 100% made the right choice.  It has been so incredibly difficult to walk away from something that I hold so close to me, especially through no fault of my own. I cannot lie, I am battling what I can only describe as PTSD. Its bad, but it doesn't hold a candle to how I felt in that lab.  I reported my situation to the department head and the graduate school, with all of the details and all of the names. I would love to see Sarah be found out, but mostly I wanted to make sure a record was created to prevent anyone from going through this again.  
    Just to give everyone an update on how my resignation went:
    -I pled my case to my PI, for what felt like the 100th time.  It was long winded. Basically, I told her that I believed that Sarah was very dangerous and that I could not be associated with things I viewed as unethical. 
    -The PI told me that she may be biased due to Sarah's productivity, but she didn't think that I had all of my information correct. She explained to me why everyone who thought that Sarah was a saboteur was wrong. The master's student who graduated before I got there "was crazy". John's stuff "just never worked". Veronica was "just at a point in her research" where she thought that. For my research it was explained by, "sometimes stuff just doesn't work and then it does". She said that she was sorry to see me go, but didn't see any other option. She asked that I email my committee and tell them I was resigning.
    -I emailed my committee. Most people responded with very nice, but shocked emails. I know that I come across as a capable, passionate, level headed scientist, so I'm sure they were very shocked. One committee member, who Veronica and the previous MS student were close with emailed me back. She asked why I was resigning. I knew that Veronica and the other student had spoken to this professor about Sarah, but had not mentioned sabotage. I explained to the professor that I didn't know how much I could divulge, but I resigned because I felt that another graduate student was abusive. She pressed me and so I sent her a link to this posting. She then explained to me that if a lab has secrets like this it is a total red flag. She also said that if I had talked to people in the department I would have found out that Sarah is viewed by many as "diabolical".
    -I know what you're thinking, why didn't I talk to anyone sooner? I would have been treated like (more of) a pariah by the lab if I did that. Also, I don't think working under this PI was in my best interest. She clearly was not going to be swayed away from Sarah's insanity. I would never be allowed to produce quality work there.   
    So, now....
    My friend works in Sarah's undergraduate lab. She explained to me that the senior graduate student had worked closely with Sarah. That student said that Sarah only brought drama. Sarah accused the student of stealing her ideas and would go crying to the PI and complain about the grad student.  Sound familiar?  
    I emailed Veronica and told her that I believed Sarah to be a sick individual that uses emotional outbursts to manipulate people into taking her side. I asked that she try to logically review what happened in the lab. I hope that this can protect the newest member of that lab. 
    What now?
    I have no freaking idea. I am a person who always has a plan and ten back up plans. I haven't been plan-less since high school. I'm healing now. I'm browsing research assistant positions in other labs (at different universities). I sincerely hope that the PI doesn't prevent me from moving forward in this career path. I have a lot of other amazing scientists in my corner, so letter's of rec will not be a problem at all.     
    Who knows, maybe you will see a happy update from me down the road.       
  16. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to St Andrews Lynx in Potential Laboratory Sabotage   
    Yeah, it was probably not a good idea to talk to your everyone else but your PI about the sabotage. Regardless of the validity of the concerns, pumping it through a rumour mill rather than going through professional channels undermines your case and leads to too many hurt feelings. It sounds like the comments you made about Sarah prompted your friends to behave in ways - as you said - out of your control. And now she has the opportunity to play the victim, not necessarily without justification.
    I get the feeling that the sabotage described is only the tip of a whole f**ked-up iceberg of a dysfunctional lab. If the situation is really worse than this anecdote, I'd consider leaving the lab as diplomatically as possible before (i) you are fired (ii) something even worse (professionally or personally) happens. You don't want your future career tarred with what has been going on around you.
  17. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to St Andrews Lynx in Potential Laboratory Sabotage   
    I think that you need to talk to your advisor about this, and promptly.
    You do have evidence at this point: the things that you have told us in the post. Experiments don't work when she is around; but do when she isn't. Setting out decoy reagents and the reactions work. Unless you set up CCTV cameras in the lab, you aren't going to get evidence that is much better than this.
    My advice would be to talk to the advisor with your fellow group members. Bring along a written summary of the evidence and concerns. Leave out the aspects of Sarah's personality (micromanager, ridiculing others, etc) and stick to the "sabotage facts". Keep calm: your PI might respond with shock or anger (if they have suspected nothing up until this point), you don't want to derail the discussion. 
    If your PI refuses to admit there's a problem or does nothing, then you might consider talking to a university ombudsman (impartial mediator) to get advice on what to do next. Or resigning from the lab if you don't want to support unethical research. Hopefully the PI will listen to your concerns. 
    In the interim, try to keep your research secured and confidential. That might mean locking up your lab notebooks, setting up decoy reagents/hiding your own reagents. 
    Sabotaging other people's work is an awful thing to do - but it isn't as bad for the PI w. respect to their tenure/funding/publications as if this student was faking positive data (that subsequently got into their grants or papers). I don't think that concern for the PI's wellbeing should stop you from reporting the suspicious behaviour. 
  18. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to Neuro15 in Laying Down the truth, sorry, not sorry   
    Well thanks for the honesty I suppose. I'm going to be blunt with you, so try to not take offense, but you seem awfully arrogant. Some of your points are valid and I agree with; there are currently too many PhDs being trained. At this rate it's not sustainable, it's simply not. But to say a PhD is not worthwhile unless you stay in academia is silly and myopic, and should someone choose industry over academia that does not make them any less of a scientist. Many PhDs are choosing industry and alternative careers simply because they find academia is not an attractive option. Being on an entirely soft money salary fighting tooth and nail for grants in order to feed your family isn't exactly everyone's idea of a stable career, and if you can't see that then perhaps you should reflect on the current climate of academia a bit more. You know what percentage of PhD graduates end up in tenure track positions? It's low. While academia was once the default path, it's quickly becoming just the opposite and schools are changing to reflect that. 
    You are exactly the the type of person I am looking to avoid for rotations. I hope during the course of your training you take off your blinders, because your narrow mindedness is something that is not a great character trait. 
  19. Downvote
    mockturtle reacted to PhD_RPs in Laying Down the truth, sorry, not sorry   
    Does it bother anyone else that schools like to start out the career path options presentations without mentioning going for a career in academia?
    Why the heck would you go to grad school for your PhD if that is not your goal. I'm sick and tired of that shit, you don't need a PhD for consulting, you don't need a PhD to become a science writer, you don't need a PhD for an industry job..
    Schools are letting in too many people, at every interview I've been to, I've met tons of smart people, alternatively, I've also met people that make me think "Why are you here?". I hear stuff like: "I'll be picking a mentor and doing rotations with people whose personalities mesh with mine" are you kidding me? -- I'll be doing rotations with people who are going to challenge me and push me to the edge - I'll be going with my gut feelings on who I choose to work with and it will purely be based off of their science. 
    There are TOO many PhD's awarded, have you seen the statistics on PhDs on welfare (not just Biology PhDs to be fair but all in the USA) something like 30 percent on welfare. 50 years ago there were about 600,000 Bio researchers, now there are 6-7 million, it's not sustainable.
    Schools need to clean up their acts, Masters degrees need to be funded not paid for by students - that can solve two problems: replicability as MS degrees can be focused on reproducing data and not novel data generation; it can also give an avenue for all the people who want to do what I would call "soft" stuff with their degrees. PhDs should only be given and encouraged for those who have raw talent and can become peers with professors not every person who applies.
    If science does not keep you awake a night and doesn't wake you up in the morning... good luck.
    When I'm a PI one day, I will not even let a student who does not want to become a SCIENTIST anywhere near my lab, not even for a rotation. Some of the people on this website and IRL just make me cringe, somebody needs to scientifically slap them with the truth.
    What are your thoughts? Are you getting your PhD without the intent of at least trying to become a PI or Lecturer? Why? 
  20. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to TakeruK in Worst graduate school visit stories?   
    Want to keep further details private, but you may be glad to hear that the misogynistic comments did result in repercussions for the faculty member.
  21. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to Bioenchilada in 2016 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results   
    Accepted to Cornell University as a Dean's Scholar!!!
  22. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to Neist in Venting Thread- Vent about anything.   
    Really sorry to hear that.
    Not sure if anything can be done about that. If she's willing and there was extenuating circumstances on her part, perhaps she can do something on her end?
    You have unfortunately experienced what I'm fairly positive every single one of us fears. I'm really, really sorry.
  23. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to juilletmercredi in Time off between undergrad and grad?   
    As someone who went straight through from undergrad to PhD I am a huge huge HUGE advocate of taking a few years to do something besides school. Even for students who really really want it and think they are 95% sure they want a PhD. But especially for a student who is ambivalent and really rates financial stability as being a top priority. Graduate school stipends do NOT confer financial stability. It looks that way from the outside, but there are all kinds of caveats. My first stipend was around $32,000 in New York, which sounds like it should be enough to live on, particularly since I was sharing an apartment with another graduate student. It was - just barely. Had I had some kind of crisis or emergency I would've been wiped out. I had friends who did not have summer support and had to run around to try to get that. There's conference travel for presenting, which often takes a bite out of your income (even if your department says they support students, it's often not enough to cover all the expenses for one trip. And often they reimburse you.) There are additional things you need to get that your stipend will have to stretch to cover.
    And $32,000 is an extremely generous stipend for a graduate program. I know the anthropology stipends were less even at my same university, and they are quite a bit less at other universities in other locales - even expensive ones. (I think CUNY was paying out around $18,000.)
    Let me put it this way...I spent 6 years in my PhD program. I don't regret it, and I have an awesome job (in industry) that I could've only gotten with a PhD in the field I finished in. But people still ask me 1) if it was worth it and 2) if I would do it all over again, and I still don't know how to answer either of those questions (my degree was conferred a year and two days ago). Nothing even particularly bad happened to me during my PhD program - I was funded all the way through at above-average levels, got a couple of papers published, lived in a great city, got married, had good friends...but it's just a really long slog to do particularly if you would be equally happy doing something that didn't require a PhD at all. I had no idea of the kinds of jobs I could do without a PhD; I had no idea that I could get involved with research-related jobs even with a master's degree, and very little actual idea of what a PhD-holding person who wasn't a professor actually did on a day-to-day basis (because I didn't want to go into academia).
    So your professors are just trying to encourage you to explore a little bit before you spend 6-8 years earning a degree that you potentially don't need to do what you want: to see if there are any other jobs you really love, figure out all that life stuff that was referenced above and really make concrete decisions about career and research that are filtered through experience.
    Also...be easier on those cousins of yours. Sometimes moving back home IS a smart choice. I feel like we're way too hard on our generation; there's no switch that flips at college graduation/age 21-22 that magically helps you find a job that can support you at levels high enough to pay rent everywhere and allow you to save. Being under 30 and broke isn't all that uncommon - and honestly, if you go to graduate school living on a grad stipend, you will probably be 24 and broke, too! I was! It takes time to start earning more money, put enough in savings to be a cushion and build your life up. That doesn't mean you'll be starving, though.
  24. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to haltheincandescent in Venting Thread- Vent about anything.   
    Mrs./Ms./Miss./etc./etc./etc./etc./or etc.? Ugh. Really, I don't know why this annoys me as much as it does, but: reason #5 for getting a PhD: Dr. That's it kids. Dr. (Okay, it's not a motivating reason at all, obviously, but, nice little added plus).
  25. Upvote
    mockturtle reacted to StrongTackleBacarySagna in Venting Thread- Vent about anything.   
    Girl/Boy, you don't need a bitch who doesn't have no balls on him to get into schools. You're a proud five star Yu Gi Oh card that don't need no man
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