Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pretty Woman in academia.

Being in academia for good few years now, I've heard this said directly to me several times, most recently last week. The gist:
"It isn't fair, but people don't take a pretty woman in science seriously."
"Pretty woman" could easily be replaced with many different words describing minorities in science, rural/urban accents, people with disabilities. But why would a colleague say this to someone of such a group?

After some thought, I'm pretty sure these people must be referring to the 1990 classic movie, Pretty Woman. So, let's talk about academia in general, with some help from Pretty Woman.

Some days it feels like the academic pipeline is work, work, work:

And, whether it is stated out loud by a supervisor, a colleague, or in our heads, these voices exist, reminding us that we don't fit. 

And most days you can let it run off your back; you try to remember not to take it personally.

You do the right things, you cover your bases, you do your work, and you do it well.

But every now and then someone reminds you of the cost of just being *you*… reminds you of a time when you couldn't afford (through financial or personal or social capital) to be in the position you're in now.

Some days those little voices get louder and louder, bouncing in your head, and make you wonder if you belong.

Getting through it can take different forms. Maybe you remind yourself that it isn't all luck, that you have big dreams, and by dammit, you have worked hard for those dreams, and you deserve to want these things for yourself. 

Maybe you find a friend to commiserate with. Maybe you go to a mentor. Maybe you go to the source (either to the person, or to those dark parts of your mind) and tell those voices what's up, that the focus is on your work, your awesome work, not these petty distractions.

You deserve to be here. You deserve to be recognized for your work. And any voice that tells you otherwise is making a mistake.

Big Mistake. Big. Huge.


Anonymous said...

Found this via Retraction Watch--very clever! And very relatable, even if you're not Julia Roberts.

mathbionerd said...

Thank you!!