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Discrimination against the private life?

Julia Frugoli jfrugoli at bio.tamu.edu
Sat May 8 20:24:03 EST 1999

>Linnea Ista (lkista at unm.edu) wrote:
>> The MOST obscene thing about this whole situation is that the department
>> chair himself did not do the "grad student sacrifice" he was asking her to
>> make. He openly talked about how his wife worked and basically supported
>> them during his grad school days, while completing her PhD in Home Ec. So
>> HE never made the sacrifice he thought people had to be willing to make. 

Just to let you know that this attitude is not confined to men.  I was
pursuing a biochemistry PhD in the Chem department at BU part time with a
wonderful advisor while I worked full time in a government lab and paid the
mortgage.  My PI held a joint appointment in Biochemistry and Chemistry, and
the Biochemistry program didn't require a language or comp tests in organic
(I was having trouble passing this).  With my PI's blessing and
encouragement, I went to see the Biochem department chair, a woman, to try
and switch programs.  She told me in no uncertain terms that her program
would never accept a part time student-even if Chemistry would-her standards
were higher.  She said I wasn't willing to make the commitment and that part
time students did poor quality research in her experience (since they never
had any, I don't know what experience that was).  Besides, the fact that I
was trying to transfer to avoid a test showed I wasn't scholarly.  

I ended up leaving my job to go to grad school at another institution a year
later, which required a major disruption of my family's life.  My marriage
fell apart within 6 months (I think grad school just accelerated an
inevitable).  But I got an NSF fellowship, finished a PhD with several
publications, and got a good postdoc despite my "lack of scholarship." 
There are times in my mind when I go back to her office and tell her how
wrong she was-but I can't even remember her name anymore.  Guess it's poetic
justice. :)

Julia Frugoli
Department of Plant Pathology & Microbiology
Texas A&M University
Southern Crop Improvement Facility MS#2123
College Station, TX 77843
phone 409-862-3495
FAX 409-862-4790

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