Nice to be hearing from you all at last. Thank you, Serge and
colleagues, for working on this posting problem and getting the
group up and going again!
Re. the survey idea--there seems to be a fair amount of interest
about it. I hope some student interested in the sociology or
practise of science will be interested in following it up and
making it a serious study. The advantage of keeping it small
and focussed on just a couple of programs
I think is the personal touch. It will be much easier to follow
up that way on individuals, because it is probably the harder-to-
track individuals who are the most important to follow up!
I also suggested keeping it focussed on just a couple of
top programs, principally so that everyone would agree that the
problems faced by those students are unlikely to indicate any
lack of preparation or qualification on the part of the students.
If the students coming out of the top programs are in trouble,
with all the advantages they should have,
then you know we are all in trouble.
Ann Magnuson at Lund in Sweden comments that women students she
knows are less willing to apply for university jobs. I think we
see some of that in the US as well. My hypothesis (which might
be completely disproven by a survey!) is that even without
considering family-friendly issues, women perceive
what is necessary for success in academics as something uncomfortable
to them (hierarchical structure, politicking, aggressive self-
promotion), and also suffer a crisis of confidence in their ability
to succeed in that environment. Many more women than
men students are fearful that they just haven't "got" it,
when they have the talent-- most of what they haven't "got" is the
attitude and the assumption of success. This self-doubt can be
crippling and difficult to overcome.
I've posted here before that I get the feeling my colleagues
all have some manual of instructions of how to succeed, while
I seem to need to learn it by stumbling around making
mistakes. Sometimes it seems that the road they travel is
smoothed out by all those contacts they've made, whereas
I have to bootstrap myself over each obstruction without
help or notice. Does this simply reflect differences in
our socialization, and how we interact, or something else?
At times it even seems as though their rules are different
than those I have to live by.
Meanwhile, although there is a certain grim satisfaction in
being confident that my accomplishments are entirely due to
my own effort, I wouldn't mind a hand over the rocks
now and again, and an occassional pat on the back.
DON'T REPLY to the email address in header.
It's an anti-spam. Use the one below.
S L Forsburg, PhD forsburg at salk.edu
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA
"These are my opinions. I don't have
time to speak for anyone else."