MsPhD of Young Female Scientist Stops Blogging

December 17, 2010

The goodbye post is here, stop by and drop a note of thanks.
I’ve certainly enjoyed reading her perspectives over the past several years and I know many of you have as well. Whether you’ve agreed, disagreed or had other reactions it has been a quintessential life-in-academia type of blog….and a good one.
As my reader’s know, I’m all about the differing viewpoints. I feel quite strongly that none of us gets more than a tiny pinhole of a window on so-called objective reality. It is through listening to the experiences of others that we best broaden our view and especially when it comes to academic careers, this is a very good thing.
Personally, of course, I’m grateful that MsPhD getting all angry about this blog post of mine at my original WordPress home really accelerated my audience.

2007BlogTrafficMsPhD400.png
Thanks, MsPhD!

My post was published at the end of August, 2007 and hers appeared in early September so the data are relatively clean. Naturally her fellow disgruntledocs came over to beat me up and, well, …you know how much PP and I enjoy that sort of discussion. I think you can see the sustained effect, not atypical for new blogs.
Getting back to the question of perspectives and “truth”, MsPhD’s current post includes this comment:

Between being completely sidelined by other bloggers who act like I’m just too crazy to be right,

At least from my point of view this is not the issue. I am familiar with at least one PI out of whose lab a person could easily have the experiences as described by MsPhD in the course of her blogging. The question is rather whether these situations are common to all of science or are relatively rare. I certainly come down on the side of rarer-than-described-by-MsPhD and that has led to numerous of our disagreements. I also feel that there are always steps one can take to advantage oneself in a bad training environment and I clearly have a lot of company in this among the science-blogs and associated commentariat. Therein lay much opportunity for discussing common problems in academic careers and we should all be grateful to MsPhD for being the focal point for so many good discussions.
Although I’m a latecomer to YFS, I still regret that the commentary, particularly on her blog, was at times fairly personal and also that MsPhD appears to take every generalization of her scenarios as personal. Personally, I tried to make it clear where I was generalizing the situation but that doesn’t always work, particularly when one perceives that one is a target. Clearly she’d been having similar discussions long before I even found science blogs, so it isn’t like it is anyone’s fault in particular. Ultimately there is only so much generalizing one can do when launching from a personal anecdote. Still, it is important in all of this to recognize and extract the general career advice that emerges from the various discussions. I would advise all readers, old and new, of the various excellent discussions sparked by MsPhD to try to view debates as a contrast of experiences and viewpoint, rather than a contrast of personalities or individuals.
Happy trails, MsPhD. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

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10 Responses to “MsPhD of Young Female Scientist Stops Blogging”

  1. CoR Says:

    Hm. Interesting. Very interesting….

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  2. becca Says:

    I’m really sorry to see her go. For many of the reasons you mention, but also because people like you need to be reminded that those really bad situations are all too common. (the actual extent of the problem -whether it’s 90% or 10% of all labs- is somewhat moot. If it’s common enough *everybody* knows at least one PI that any given horror story could have arisen around, we’re obviously talking about a huge waste of human capital. Which is probably ok if you have the ‘it’s like the minors baby’ CPP asshatitude, but I *hope* you can see as… suboptimal, at least?)
    “I still regret that the commentary, particularly on her blog, was at times fairly personal and also that MsPhD appears to take every generalization of her scenarios as personal. “
    Pathetic, DM.
    I know what you’re talking about, in a sense. I wound up on her blog trying to say something supportive and having it seem to make things worse. Such miscommunications are always frustrating.
    But does she really appear to take *every* generalization of her scenarios as personal? Nah. At least I haven’t seen it.
    And the whole ‘that girl always takes everything so personal!’ thing is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo tired. DM FAIL.

    Like

  3. sjh Says:

    I sincerely hope YFS [redacted. not the time and place for taking additional potshots, my friends. -DM]
    I fully understand and agree that bad situations happen, both in and out of science, and they are always a waste of capital, but YFS is perhaps the worst person possible to communicate them.

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  4. FrauTech Says:

    sjh- then don’t read her motherf@#4ing blog!
    Again an attack that’s personal, rather than on the actual meat of the material written.
    I work in corporate america, not the hallowed halls of academia, but so many of her situations and observations I’ve seen in my time here and will likely see again. I think the “it’s a lot rarer than they think it is” is because if I ever shared my opinions on this beyond the blogosphere, I’d be pulled up onto a stand to be a shooting target. I do get the motivations to the “why don’t you just try this…” but sometimes you try everything and crap happens. I think maybe because she wrote from a female perspective many blog readers assumed she was only railing about the male/female divide. But really so many of her situations can be applied to people who just don’t have the political capital to get stuff done. And too often people in positions of power completely ignore gross misconduct elsewhere. We are taught formally about ethics in science and ethics in engineering, but not so much the ethics of how to treat your colleagues or how to stand up against a wrong or use your leverage and power when there is a wrong.
    Anyways, she will be missed by me as well and I’d like to think the more of us out here in the digital world unafraid to share our stories will help those like you to see that these situations are not all that rare.

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  5. when one is fighting desperately for her professional life, many things ARE personal, especially when that battle is completely unfair. YFS’s fight (and mine, and that of many other women) is based on entirely false pretenses: their boss (and the academic/scientific community itself) is a flaming sexist dickhead that has decided that the lack of a penis makes women into second-class scientists and intellectuals. never mind the fact that the male scientists i know would never use their precious penis to conduct scientific experiments.

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  6. Roman Says:

    My wife is a PhD student in physics. I see first-hand how hard it is for a young woman to break out in science, *because she is a woman*. I am willing to give a hefty benefit of doubt to any half-competent young female scientist who claims that she failed to succeed because of the roadblocks thrown in her way. It happens far too often. I am particularly angry at people who stubbornly refuse to recognize the fact that the academia is ripe with sexism.

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  7. whimple Says:

    Happy trails, MsPhD. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.
    This is a well-rehearsed line, because people in academic science are disposable.

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  8. abcd Says:

    I still regret that the commentary, particularly on her blog, was at times fairly personal and also that MsPhD appears to take every generalization of her scenarios as personal.
    I am a frequent reader (although not a commentor) on MsPhd’s blog. MsPhd has indeed encountered a great deal of sexism which makes her justifiably bitter about the entire scientific establishment. I hope academia was a little less political and less sexist so that incidents like this did not happen.
    But like DM, I too wish her bitterness had not colored her opinions so strongly, which led her, time and again, to dismiss so vehemently anyone who disagreed from her the slightest bit. I wish her the best of luck, and I hope she finds a career she truly enjoys.

    Like

  9. bsci Says:

    I’ve followed YFS for a while and I just hope she does ok for herself and finds success in something she enjoys.
    @GrrlScientist, never mind the fact that the male scientists i know would never use their precious penis to conduct scientific experiments.
    I can’t speak for the male scientists you know, but perhaps the following article presents a good example why this is a good thing.
    How (not) to communicate new scientific information: a memoir of the famous brindley lecture by Laurence Klotz
    BJU International, Volume 96, Issue 7, pages 956–957, November 2005
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1464-410X.2005.05797.x/full

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  10. msphd Says:

    Thanks, DM, I somehow missed that you wrote this months ago. It means a lot when you say you know of “at least one PI out of whose lab a person could easily have the experiences as described by MsPhD in the course of her blogging”.
    When I say I felt sidelined by other bloggers, I actually wasn’t talking about you or CPP. It’s especially ironic that you apparently felt the need to mention it, since you and others are accusing ME of taking everything personally, when it was actually a generalization.
    Pot call the kettle black much?
    Seriously, you (okay maybe not so much CPP) were extraordinary in your willingness to dialog, and I appreciated that. I also think traffic on our blogs was mutually beneficial, even if (especially if?) we were arguing. So, thanks right back atcha.
    That wasn’t the only reason I stopped blogging, though. So please don’t think that it was. I’m not that weak.
    I agree that my blog was often bitter, but actually I think that readers might find, in all fairness, that I tried hard to make room for other viewpoints in the comments, and acknowledge reasonable suggestions, EVEN IF I had tried them and they did not help in my particular case. I won’t say I always succeeded at that, but I did try. I could have deleted a lot of negative comments, but actually the VAST MAJORITY were posted.
    We will continue to disagree, I think, on how many bad advisors there really are, but I think we have similar ideas around what should be done about it.
    And thanks to the rest of you who commented here that you liked my blog. It brightened my day to read that.

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