This week I was perusing a research statement by someone from another university. The statement lists important people who have 'given input' or 'expressed interest' in the research described, including a research proposal that may be submitted in the near future. This was interesting to me because I was sent this research proposal a year or so ago by the applicant's postdoc supervisor (the PI), asking if I would be a co-PI on the proposal. I said no (for various reasons, although I respect and like the PI), but offered to help with the project informally as needed. I sent back detailed comments on the proposal, including helping write part of a section that related to my expertise. The PI wrote back thanking me very much for my input.
If you are a regular reader of this blog or if you are a female scientist, you can probably tell where this post is headed, and therefore it will not surprise you to find that I am not listed as one of the people who has given input for that project. When I read the statement, I assumed the non-listing of my name was because the person writing the statement wasn't totally clued in to the PI's activities related to the proposal, and that was fine. Just as I was thinking about this, however, one of the famous people who is listed called me, and I took the opportunity to ask him what his role had been in that project and the proposed proposal. He said he had no role. He'd been asked to be a co-PI as well, but had said no and didn't even read the proposal. He had never met the person who wrote the research statement, and was surprised his name was being used to indicate that the proposal had merit.
In fact, I don't think either of our names should be listed. I would be happy to read a research statement that focused entirely on the research, and didn't include any real or manufactured endorsement of the work by famous men. I think the 'list of random famous men who in theory might be interested in my research' approach perpetuates some aspects of the culture that should be eliminated for the benefit of all.
6 months ago