Friday, November 24, 2006

Grad Student Chuztpah

As time goes on, I seem to be falling more and more into the dreadful stereotypes of a typical grad student.
  • Ramen noodles are making more frequent appearances in my pathetically packed lunches
  • I seem to have a fierce disdain for most undergrads (with a few exceptions - those that work in my lab are cool)
  • My relationship with my supervisor mainly consists of me feeling inadequate and confused
  • My future research goals are piling up without making much progress on the projects I'm working on now
  • I'm getting seriously impatient about how slowly it takes to get results
  • I can't function without a few cups of coffee a day
  • The number of talks I have to give and conferences I have to go to keeps going up
  • The resulting anxiety about these talks and conferences doesn't seem to dissipate
  • Guilt has become an inherent feature of relaxation

In other words, PhD Comics is basically starting to look too much like my life. heh.


At least I do seem to go out and get drunk more often than the PhD comics characters, but I'm not sure that that's necessarily the marker of normalcy that I should cling to. Ahh well, off to the bar tonight!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Horoscope Me

I've recently started reading my daily horoscope.

I don't know why, or really how it started, but lately I seem to be doing it rather compulsively. I attribute it in part to being bored in the lab and trying to find something half decently interesting to surf for on the net during my coffee breaks.

The most recent horoscope had this to say:
On the weekend of the 17th, put your emotions, schedules and plans on hold and count on disruptions, frustrating discussions and annoying relatives who are determined to test the limits of your patience."

It creeps me out when they're so crazy accurate.

  • Non-sequitur: got to love this post by BitchPhD. Oh how it amuses!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Women in Neuroscience

I was flipping through the July issue of Nature Neuroscience when I came across a really interesting editorial on women in neuroscience. Seeing as I am a woman in neuroscience, I didn't hesitate in reading through the piece (if you're interested, it's a one page article in July 2006, volume 9 number 7, p. 853).

It turns out that only 1 in 5 papers published in the journal have a female corresponding author. The editors were then interested in why this is: is it 'simply' because there are less women in neuroscience as a field, or is it reflecting a societal glass ceiling?

In examining whether the author's gender correlated with their chances of publishing in NN, they found that "papers from female authors are sent for peer review and published in proportion to their representation among submission" - i.e the overall acceptance rates were statistically indistinguishable. 10.9% of papers with female authors in comparison to 11.8% with male authors were published.

However, is still stands that there are gender disparities in the demographics of neuroscientists. For example, of 940 reviewers for the journal itself, only 16.2% are female. In 2003, it was reported that 50% of neuroscience graduates were female, but only 25% of tenure-track faculty were female.

What I also found pretty discouraging is that in 1999, MIT found that female faculty had lower salaries, less space and fewer recourses than men with equivalent accomplishments in the field. A big multivariate study done in 2004 found that gender differences in career success were entirely attributable to the differential effects of marriage and family on women and men.

In other words, they found that having a family has a detrimental effect on women's careers, but not on men's careers.

I don't know how to feel in reaction to these sorts of findings anymore. I feel angry. I feel sad. I feel discouraged. I feel powerless. And then at the same time, I feel like it's irrelevant to me and my life because I'm going to succeed in whatever it is I choose to do - it's just how my life works and has always worked.

I just hope some of these numbers can help those girls and women who say "I'm not a feminist, but..." see that they can't take what they have forgranted: we still have a very long way to go.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stay Classy, Montreal

What's better than getting all skanked up for Halloween and taking drunken mirror pictures with your friends? Nothing, you say?

Well how about getting so drunk that you only stay for 30 minutes at the party you got all dressed up for because you start to get sick and get dragged home by your friend who then also gets sick?

Just another classy moment to add to my already lengthy Book of Shame. At least we managed to have a fair bit of fun getting ready for the party, heh.

It's hard to believe that it's already November, I still can't reconcile myself with how fast the time flies. I just had my first academic-induced anxiety panic attack about how fast my Master's Thesis deadline is approaching. Even though I get older (crypt-keeper older), it's good to know that my neuroses are a tried and true constant in my life.

Well, I have one new constant to add: Hungarian Champagne = bad idea. No matter how tempted you may be, no matter how funny you might find the idea of Hungarian "Champagne", DO NOT SUCCUMB. You will regret it.

Or at the very least, maybe it would be wiser to sip it gradually and not down half a bottle in 10 minutes. Either way.