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Long hours

Linnea Ista lkista at unm.edu
Wed Apr 5 01:39:50 EST 2000

giner wrote:

> In article <38EA34AE.F04ACC7 at unm.edu>, Linnea Ista <
> lkista at unm.edu> wrote:
> >One thing that has puzzled me about this entire thread is why
> it is considered
> >such a bad thing for women to derive a sense of success and
> accomplishment out of
> >a successful career and we are instead constantly seeking to
> define success on a
> >much broader scale, usually having to do with our families and
> traditional
> >care-taking responsibilities. Has the right wing really made us
> so paranoid that
> >if we are truly successful in traditional male fields, we will
> somehow lose some
> >of our extremely narrowly defined femininity? We must we, and
> not men, always have
> >to add the cavaet of "and is a good mother/wife/community
> member" to our
> >professional success.
> Linnea, I've always enjoyed your posts to this group but I'm not
> sure where you are getting that we should feel badly about a
> successful career.
> When I started this thread I never mentioned feeling bad about a
> successful career, just that I didn't want my career to be the
> only thing in my life. I don't and will never have children, and
> I don't do anything for my community quite frankly, but I do have
> a husband and hobbies. I was contrasting that to some of the very
> driven scientists I've known, and I'm basically rejecting their
> lifestyle. And the perceived notion that in some circles that
> lifestyle is required for 'success'. That is not my idea of
> success.

I think I may have overreacted to a previous poster. Like you, I have a husband
and hobbies, but do derive a lot of personal pleasure out of what I do at work.
I like my job, and I guess I read something in that said that I cannot be
successful unless I have a family as well. My bad.

> >I think for most of the women of my generation, we have no
> choice but to work,
> >based on economics.  We might as well do what we like to do.
> Why is it such a
> >crime to be GOOD at it? To derive some satisfaction and yes,
> even a little ego,
> >from doing it well and doing the work we need to do to get it
> done?
> I don't think anyone here has implied we shouldn't be good at
> what we do. My opinion is that we shouldn't buy into the idea
> that the 'scientist as monk' syndrome, sacrificing everything for
> science, is necessary for that success. Because that attitude
> drives away many very bright, capable women from academia. Not
> just because they feel a need to be the primary caretakers of
> their children. I'm sure it has the same effect on many bright
> men who want a life, too, but I don't have any person experience
> with them.

I guess I am reacting from a different perspective. The academic culture I am in
right now is pretty laid back. This is probably because I have a boss who
prioritizes his family equally and is thrilled when he hears that we do things
outside the lab. It is indeed a refreshing change from what I experienced as a
grad student.  He is really well respected in his field but he also realizes
that all work and no play makes Jill and or Jack a pretty dull scientist. That
scientist as monk paradigm does not pertain. I actually got in a little trouble
last week because I came back from being sick still coughing. It does no one any
good to come back, after all, if they are going to have a relapse or infect

> Would it
> >somehow be more noble if I were a social worker or elementary
> school teacher or
> >working retail where it was clear it was JUST a job and
> something from which I,
> >personally, would get no satisfaction and would probably end up
> working just as
> >many hours?
> Well, quite frankly I find social workers and elementary school
> teachers quite noble. And nurses and all those other 'pink
> collar' workers.

Of course they are noble! That is why I cited them. They would drive me all
loony, however.  What I am saying is that there seems to be a societal norm that
somehow doing these jobs for a woman is okay, even if they put in long hours,
whereas I am some sort of overworking freak. I don't get this so much from
people in science, but rather from other women, usually older than me that don't
understand why I really don't mind working until 7:00 some evenings and infer
from that that I don't have a life or that I have sacrificed everything for my
career. I have a very good friend who is  a nurse and works 80 hours every week.
She gets paid overtime, which is a whole other story. She seems to be seen by a
certain social circle as noble and sacrificing, whereas what I do is selfish. I
think that was a societal rant.

> >I am not saying that long hours are always necessary. I can
> usually get what I
> >need to get done in a 10 hour day or less, but occasionally,
> when that grant just
> >needs to get out, or if by staying 2 extra hours I  will be a
> day ahead on a
> >project, why yes, I will stay. I call my husband and let him
> know. I sometimes
> >have to cancel plans. Most of my friends understand. I realize
> that I do not have
> >to juggle daycare and all that, but the way our respective
> schedules are now,
> >Scott would be the one doing the picking up anyhow because he
> works construction
> >hours and can do much of his administrative stuff at home.
> >From what I've seen, a 70 hour work week would be like a vacation
> for most tenure-track profs. Granted, I'm working from a rather
> small sample size. I also know that things vary greatly between
> universities, and even from department to department. I guess I'm
> talking about pretty extreme examples.

Well, I am not a tenure-track prof. I am a staff scientist with a master's
degree (cause I didn't want to play the tenure track game). I mentioned before
that the culture here is somewhat more laid-back, at least in our lab, which is
pretty successful all in all.  So yeah, when I come in on the weekends or stay
late, it is considered a sign of "superstardom" at least according to my last
review. And the reason I stay or come in is because I want to do it because the
science is interesting. And I like writing grants so I don't mind working on
them late. My tune may well change later this year when  my boss goes on
sabbatical and pick up some of the resultant  admnistrative slack ;-)

I guess I had better sit back and count my blessing that I have managed to work
it out so I have time for everything I want to do. Now, if we are talking money,
that is another story!


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