Today a male colleague told me that he wished more women grad students had 'monomania' when it came to research/Science. What a thing to wish for.
This conversation made me wonder whether I was a monomaniac in grad school. I don't think I was, but it was a long time ago and I am not necessarily able to judge this myself. There have always been other things that are important to me in addition to my research, so I would be surprised if I was ever a monomaniac, sensu stricto.
You can work hard and be intensely interested in your research without being a monomaniac. I certainly don't expect monomaniacity (monomaniacness?) from my own students. Surely having a balanced life in grad school is a healthier way to be and better preparation for a happy life after grad school.
I've said it before many times: It's not the women who should change, it's the culture. No one should have to be a monomaniac to succeed. In my gloomier moments, I think that Academia won't change significantly until it becomes more diverse, but it won't become more diverse until it changes significantly, but it can't change until it becomes more diverse, and so on.
In a related conversation with the same colleague, he expressed some concern on my behalf today. I recently put together a collection of images that I created and that I hope will help students in some of my intermediate level courses. The image collection is available free in electronic form, but I also put the collection together in a visually stunning (well, aesthetically pleasing, anyway) form that can be printed inexpensively from a self-publishing site if anyone wants to have the collection in the form of a glossy printed book.
My colleague was concerned that if students went to this book publishing site to get the science book, they would see some non-scientific things I have on the same site. He thought I should have used different sites for my non-science and science writing. (Or maybe I should just write everything anonymously?)
It's not as if my non-science writing is embarrassing, or, at least, I don't think so.. (Maybe my colleague thinks so, though. Hmm). It's not as if I wrote obscene poems or thinly veiled descriptions of odious colleagues (the latter I do here, in my blog). Mostly it's just stories I wrote for my daughter. It didn't even occur to me to care if my students saw these stories. It's fine with me if they do, and then they will surely know that I am not a monomaniac.
10 years ago