Tuesday, April 4, 2017

New Frustrations

So I haven't posted much since getting tenure. As most faculty in science/engineering will tell you, life only gets harder after tenure. I've become even more busy. Just as stressed as always because students still need to be paid, supplies still cost money. In fact, even more stressed because I no longer qualify for most early investigator opportunities. I got two separate proposal rejections yesterday. How's that for a kick in the nuts.

I started working on a post a few weeks ago while at a conference, then never got around to finishing it up. So I'm doing it now instead of grading.

I've observed multiple instances a conference recently that highlighted how much science is not a meritocracy.

First, I attended an event that was hosted by one of the more specialized societies to which I pay an annual membership. I wasn't "classically" trained in this field by one of the few select old men that invented the field, so I'm already looked at as an outsider. But what really grinded my gears was that the board members didn't recognize my name. Normally, one would not expect board members to recognize names, except that I've run for a board position multiple times at this point. Obviously, I didn't win, but my name and brief bio were one of a handful of candidates. And this is a society that has less than one hundred members.

Meanwhile, there are golden boy new professors that are winning awards without yet even accomplishing anything. They don't even have a signature publication as a PI that they could point to, but they reap the benefits of having been trained by one of the big-wigs in the field. They are introduced and promoted within the community and immediately part of the old boys club.

A separate scenario involved my students. One of the big-wigs came into the room where students were giving their oral presentations. He sat through two mediocre presentations from new PhD students from his former students lab, and then got up and left when my student got up to give their talk. First, this wasn't the big-wigs former student, it was his academic grandchild he came to support, and then he couldn't be bothered to listen to even one talk from someone that he's not affiliated with.

How am I or my students supposed to get big-wigs to recognize the value of our work if they are walking around with blinders on?

1 comment:

  1. How am I or my students supposed to get big-wigs to recognize the value of our work if they are walking around with blinders on?

    I don't know the answer to that one, but you are definitely right. The cream-of-the-crop only talk and read and listen to the work produced by other in-crowd folks and it's extremely hard to get them to notice your work, let alone cite you. All you can do is keep doing good work (if you can get the money, since they also have dibs on funds). I have met and talked with more bigwigs at a funding agency PI meeting than at any conference; being funded by the same program manager seems to give you more clout, or something.

    But yeah, it's really tough to get on bigwigs' radar.