Wednesday, July 6th 2016

Take the damn rollback

Dear junior faculty with aging parents, impending adoptions or pregnancies, medical issues or research setbacks,

Take the damn rollback (or stop your tenure clock, or whatever you call it at your institution). Stop worrying, stop losing sleep, stop hemming and hawing. Stop ruminating on Professor Crustypants and whether he’ll have a problem with your rollback. Stop wondering if you will be denied a promotion.

Here’s the thing. If you are a person of color, identify as female or a non-cis gender identity, or have any number of other identities that stray from Albert Einstein’s*, there are plenty of ways through the course of your career in which you will be discriminated against. It will happen. So rather than let that crap seep into your personal life and make it hard for you to choose elder care/bear a child/whatever, take the damn rollback. It’s not that your fears may not be real, it’s that you can’t let them affect every decision you make.

Play the long game. Play the game that means, in ten years, you’ll have the healthy relationships and thriving lab that you always dreamed of. Play the game in a way where your institution is the institution it should be rather than the one that it is. If the institution turns out to fail you, it would have failed you at some other point – better to know now and figure out how to deal with it.

Play the game so that you can be asking the questions you care about, doing the research that is important to you, over the next several decades. If this means a dip in productivity right now, so be it. Good institutions recognize human reproductive life cycles as a normal part of the life span of a good worker.

Play the game so that the people who come after you, the students you mentor and postdocs you chat with in the line for the bathroom at conferences, will have a better work climate. Be one of the people who makes things better, rather than tells her mentees to suck it up because that’s how it is.

Just take the damn rollback.

Love and kisses,


*If you will look like Albert Einstein when you’re old or you look like him now, be a good ally and not only take the rollback, but don’t be like these dudes and actually use it for its intended purpose. Don’t mess this one up for us.

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Monday, April 20th 2015

Gaslighting STEM

Gaslighting Duo Ceci and Williams are at it again. They’ve published another piece saying there is nothing to worry about in STEM in terms of institutional climate that might be limiting women’s careers or progress. Rather than link to their own op-ed or not-exactly-hard-hitting pieces in mainstream media, I’ll point my readers to dissenting perspectives offered by several smart colleagues:

The Myth About Women in Science? Bias in the study of gender inequality in STEM by Dr. Zuleyka Zevallos at Other Sociology

Be careful saying “The Myth About Women in Science” is solved by Dr. Marie-Claire Shanahan at Boundary Vision

“A Surprisingly Welcome Atmosphere” by Dr. Matthew R. Francis at Slate

#StillaProblem II: academic science is (still) sexist, Storify curated by Dr. Karen E. James


Monday, October 6th 2014

We Talked, They Listened (Mostly), Then They Made Things Worse

A list of things in my house, in approximate descending quantitative order. I may have left a few out, and the list may be biased because I did a free association where one thing led me to think of another. But! It’s a list!!! And, well, if you have any issues with the accuracy or inclusiveness of my list, I’ll just make a longer one, with more stuff that I find important, using possibly worse and less inclusive metrics to determine it as I did the first time.

  1. Microbes: oh I don’t know, a whole whole lot
  2. Dustmites: also a whole whole lot, but probably a bit less than microbes
  3. Face mites (thanks Ed Yong! I know this makes it looks like you gave them to us, but I’m going to leave this parenthetical comment as is): I don’t want to think about this, but I know it’s a lot
  4. Legos: many, many, many
  5. Books: this is a family that likes to read
  6. Socks: we also like to wear socks
  7. Fleas (thanks to our collie and no thanks to the completely useless Frontline Plus!): almost eradicated, but they persist in this one dog’s fur
  8. Issues of National Geographic: over one hundred
  9. Pieces of unfolded laundry: under one hundred
  10. Underpants: under one hundred but more under than the laundry
  11. Chocolate chips: just made cookies so less than usual
  12. Children’s hair clips: oh dear god they hurt almost as bad as a lego when you step on them
  13. Green tomatoes from the garden because we were about to have a frost: yum
  14. Baby carrots: one bag
  15. Issues of Runners World: we recently culled them, so fewer than in the past
  16. Rolls of toilet paper: about a dozen
  17. Overdue library books: less than a dozen
  18. Humans: three
  19. Cats: two
  20. Dog: one