This post will go *poof!* on Friday.
— There are many things to love about being a scientist, and about as many to hate about being a woman scientist. One such hate-worthy aspect of trying to do my job while female is that getting recognition does not, in fact, become easier with age. I always thought that, as I got older and more established, I would no longer have to constantly prove my competence wherever I show up. That the people around whom I have been for years, working and publishing and presenting in the same venues, will recognize me as a peer turned out to be true, sort of. What I never thought of is that all the younger people, men and women alike, will also need to be convinced that I am competent, because getting old and wrinkly is not a proxy for technical competence in women, just in men. This insistence by the young folks that middle-aged women presumably do not belong in science and need to be cross-examined about their credentials on the spot to verify that they are indeed qualified is not something I expected.
— A related issue. I might need to get off the mentoring committee of a junior colleague. He’s getting on my nerves too much, and I think it’s best for his own sake that I not be in charge of mentoring him any more. What’s the problem? He already knows everything (no, not really). He comes to ask me for some advice, I tell him what I would do and why, then he argues with me about why he should do the thing he wants to do anyway (which is often unnecessary, imprudent, and more often than not antagonizes people, some of whom are very good people, without a good reason). Take my advice, or not, but don’t waste my time arguing with me. $hit ensues that didn’t necessarily have to happen because he jumped the gun; I advise about the mitigating course of action; he is again more “principled”/knows better, so more $hit and soured relationships ensue. You can lead an assistant professor towards tenure, but you can’t make him not make stupid political choices.
I am amazed at some of these young guns (we have several). The size of the egos on those people. And at least a couple of them think us senior folks, as a whole, as useless lazy hicks. Well, at least they are not overtly sexist or racist in their ageism.
— I have been reviewing annual reports for the department. I am amazed at how shamelessly some people self-promote. I have never listed that I had received an offer or expression of interest from elsewhere, unless I had something in writing. Instead, I see people liberally listing basically every time they had an informal feeler from another place as a legitimate offer, signaling the need for retention. I bet their stock goes up this way.
— I have a confession to make: I have a minor superpower. I write kick-ass nominations for awards. From undergrad fellowships to lifetime achievement professional society awards, I have so far had a ridiculously high hit rate (i.e., how often my nominees get the prize). Hopefully I don’t jinx it! Of course, it is key that the applicants are highly qualified, exceptional people; that makes my job considerably easier. But, I think my penchant for adjective abuse certainly helps.
However, I don’t put my work on the nominations for other people (or their successes) on my annual report. I just list the relevant committee and that’s that. Imagine my surprise today when I saw, in the annual report of the main department administrator, listed as one of his annual accomplishments is that the department faculty have received all these awards, each listed by award name. I did the leg work for those nominations and wrote all the nomination letters, which he then signed. And yet he gets to claim this work as evidence of leadership excellence… And probably doesn’t think anything’s wrong with that. Well, fuck.