Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tim Hunt's not the only asshole in science

My new lab is so stressful.  People barely ever talk to each other, because my boss constantly admonishes us (as a group; he's never had the balls to address a problem with one person specifically) for not working enough and has said that people socializing in the lab or doing work other than lab work are a "productivity suck". However he evidently feels that he is above having to follow his own rules, and when he's bored (he admits this) he will come into the lab to talk for anywhere from ten minutes to a half hour, joking and laughing loudly and making uncomfortable comments that the rest of us feel we need to tolerate.

This environment has been unpleasant, and several of my mentors have pointed out that my boss is a "baby" professor, extremely green and new to the job, so I had hopes that things might improve slowly over time.  Despite these hopes, the latest development is that my boss has begun to lie to further his control over me and the graduate students.

Several weeks ago, he sent an email saying that we needed to get some samples to a colleague by this week at the absolute latest, or else this person's students wouldn't be able to process them. The day before they were "due", my boss came in and said we should meet to talk about the samples the next day, and left. I was confused, because I needed to grow the samples, and if we needed them the next day, discussing them that morning wouldn't be sufficient.

So I went to the office of our colleague and they said that they didn't need all the samples the next day, and if I only had a few that was fine.

None of the urgency or the ultimatum-like attitude of my boss's email.

Then, at our meeting the next day, he assigned four tasks each to me and the other female grad student, and one to the male grad student (it's not sexist, it's just "the way things work out". Every. Friggin. Time.)  When I told him afterward that I felt my workload was a little overwhelming, he asked if I thought there was something wrong with the structure of the lab (um, trick question?? -especially coming from someone as pompous and self-assured as himself).  I then tried to bide for some freedom in another way, asking if it was ok with him if I go to a cafe sometimes to read papers and write (as many academics do) he said yes but that I needed to let him know, because he needed to be able to justify to the undergrads where I am and that I am doing enough work, because they evidently asked about this.

Guess what? Probably not true. Especially since I always let the undergrads know where I'm going, why, and how they can reach me.

Tim Hunt's not the only asshole in science.

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