A while ago, I wrote about anti-mentors who actively discourage young scientists (in particular women) from pursuing their careers. I wrote in particular about 2 evil ones I had encountered in my academic life. There are other kinds of anti-mentors, though, including.. me.
I have long been aware, even in the pre-blog era, that I am an anti-mentor to some people, in the sense that they see what my life/career is like and decide they don't want to have that kind of life/career. Anti-mentor isn't really the right term for this, as I am not actively trying to discourage students who would otherwise have a happy, fulfilling career in academia/science. But the effect is the same in the end. I have seen this effect on some of my own students (male and female), and I see it in blog comments from time to time.
To put a positive spin on it, perhaps people who wouldn't enjoy this kind of life are finding that out by seeing examples of what life is like for a science professor at a big research university, and perhaps it's better to find that out sooner rather than later. I think I have the greatest job in the world and can't imagine doing anything else that I'd enjoy so much, but maybe if I didn't have that passion for research and teaching and all the rest of it, the negative aspects of the job would drive me crazy.
I hope that all the anecdotes and other reports about how women are treated unfairly do not discourage anyone who is passionate about science. It's still worth pursuing this career if you think that's what you want to do. It's worth pursuing it at a personal level, and it's worth it at a global level: the world will be a better place when there are more women scientists and science professors.
There have been major positive changes for women in science in the decades since I was a student. We can continue to change the culture of academia for the better by being a major part of the culture instead of existing mostly as isolated individuals. I hope, therefore, that overall more women are encouraged than discouraged.
10 years ago