The Six Ways You’re Acting Like a Grad Student (And how that’s killing you on the job market)

For the next few months I will be posting the “best of the best” Professor is in blog posts on the job market, for the benefit of all those girding their loins for the 2013-2014 market.


Today we have another Special Request post, this one coming from Liz, who asks, “You’re always telling us ‘not to act like graduate students.’ But how do I know when I’m doing it??” Thanks for asking this, Liz. It is an excellent question, especially at the start of the conference and job season.

O, you graduate students! What am I going to do with you?

How am I going to explain to you all of the ways that you sabotage and undermine yourselves, with the best of intentions, and with complete lack of self-awareness?

I wish I could grab each and every one of you, get up in your grill, and say “stop it!”

But alas, I have only the means of this blog. So I will do what I can. I will list the ways that grad students act like grad students. I will name the behavior, describe it, and then explain how and why that behavior sabotages you in a job market situation.

1. You drone on and on about your dissertation.

Oh. My. God. People. Stop talking about your dissertation!!!!! Nobody wants to hear about your dissertation!!!!! We do not care about your dissertation!!!!!

Job market: one of the primary “instant reject” cover letter types is the one that spends more than one paragraph on the dissertation. Remember from this post: search committees don’t want to know about your dissertation beyond proof that you wrote one and it’s (soon to be) finished and defended. What they want to know is how that dissertation accomplishes specific goals that serve the hiring department: ie, produces refereed publications, intervenes in a major scholarly debate, wins grants and awards, translates into dynamic teaching, transforms quickly into a book, inspires a viable second project.

In interview situations, learn to talk about your dissertation in short, punchy bursts, no more than a sentence or two long.  This gives your interlocutor the chance to say, “How interesting! Tell us more about that.”  To which you respond in another short, punchy burst.

Please recall that interviews are dialogues.  They are not monologues.  Think of a tennis match.  They lob the ball, you lob the ball back.  Rinse and repeat.

2. You think people are out to get you in your department.

Enough with the paranoia, people! Finis! Stop now.

With very rare exceptions, faculty barely even think about the graduate students in their departments. Except to ask, once a year, whether they’re on track to defend so that the Dean can stop hassling the department for its low completion rate.

The people in the department want you to finish. Period. Whatever that takes, that’s what they want you to do. So just do that, ok?

Job market: paranoia is extremely unattractive and a major red flag signalling an immature candidate not ready for prime time. You may think that your dark insinuations of how “my project really offended some people in my department” make you look mysterious and desirable, but actually they make you look tiresome. Regardless of how you were treated in your department, you say nothing but collegial things about it on the market. Period. Because how you talk about your Ph.D. department signals how you will talk about your future department. And your future department wants a colleague who has a positive attitude.

3. You think people are out to get you in your discipline.

You’re sure that your “radical” perspective/argument/position/stance has earned you powerful enemies in the field. It very likely has not. Very likely few people are even thinking about you. If you’re getting negative responses to your work, it’s very likely not because your argument single-handedly overturns the foundational orthdoxy of your field and has inspired widespread jealousy and resentment. No, it’s because the work is not yet good enough. As irritating as most professors are, they generally do respect sound argumentation backed up with intensive evidence. Provide those, and chances are your “radical” perspective will get a balanced hearing. I’m not saying you won’t have to fight for your perspective. But it will be a fair fight, not a case of your total persecution by the “powers that be” in your field.

Job market:  Dark tales of victimization at the last conference and mutterings about how “my argument has really pissed off some people in the field” will not make you look mysterious and desirable. They will make you look like a drama queen. And one thing no search committee wants? A drama queen.

4. You constantly repeat your main point.

Graduate students are insecure. This is understandable, because their status is insecure. One outcome of the insecurity is that you tend to “pile on” examples that “prove” that your topic is a legitimate one. It’s the classic dissertation disease of seeing your topic in every single thing in the universe. Everyone suffers this to some degree while writing the dissertation.

Job market: The “piling on” of examples is a hallmark of immature writing and an insecure identity. Search committees will reject anyone who appears immature and insecure. Search committees are looking for someone who already speaks and writes like an employed colleague. What that means is someone who is confident that their topic is sound, who gives a reasonable amount of evidence for the topic, but then quickly moves on to why the topic is important and path-breaking, and how the topic intervenes in major, top-tier debates in the scholarly field.

5. You make excuses for yourself.

This is the one that if I had superpowers, I would reach through your computer screen, grab you by your collar, and shake out of you. Right now.

Graduate students are so conditioned to dealing with intimidating advisors and committees that they’re like the Pavlov’s dogs of excuses.

Professor: Hi, how are you?

Grad student: I’m sorry I didn’t get that chapter in to you! I got sick over the weekend, but I’ll have it done this week, I promise!

Professor: You were sick? How are you feeling now?

Grad student: I have a 102 fever but it’s ok—I spent the morning in the library and as soon as I get through teaching my 3 sections I plan to skip dinner and make up for the writing I didn’t get done over the weekend!

Professor: Wow, take care of yourself.

Grad student: It’s ok! I can write through the delirium!

Stop that! Stop it now!

Job market: When someone on the search committee asks, “how would you teach our Intro course?” You do NOT answer in any of the following ways:

  • I haven’t really had a chance to teach a big course but I’m a quick study and think I can learn fast!!!”
  • I’m not sure how your department likes it to be done so I’d definitely follow your lead on that.”
  • I taught it last year but it didn’t really go all that well so I’d want to make a lot of changes.”

No, those are excuses. Instead, you answer in one of these ways:


  • I love the chance to teach large courses because I get to reach a new set of undergraduates and turn them on to how fascinating our field is!”
  • I will use XXX textbook because I find that to be the best one, and I will augment it with some interesting and unconventional materials like xxx and xxx.”
  • I will take a balanced approach that introduces the xx perspective and the yy perspective. Obviously my own work falls more in the xx perspective, but it’s important in an Intro class that the full scope of the field is well represented.”

Get it? You are the expert. You are the authority. You are in command.

The cover letter version of this advice:  Don’t discuss what your dissertation doesn’t do or still needs to address.  Focus exclusively on what it does achieve.  Embrace the positive.  Banish the negative.

No. Excuses.

6.  You’re submissive.

Graduate students tend to display the classic signs of submission—tilted head (ref: your puppy), bowed shoulders, tightly crossed legs, weak and vague hand gestures, a querulous, questioning tone. They have a wimpy, cold fish handshake.  They avoid direct eye contact.  They mumble and mutter and talk too fast, and above all, they ramble in an unfocused and evasive way. They will often either smile and laugh too much, or conversely be grimly humorless (a sense of humor being one of the first casualties of the graduate school experience).  They also display their lack of capital through old, worn clothes and ungroomed hair.

Few people have ALL of these traits, to be sure.  But most grad students have some of them.

Job market: Search committees are hiring a colleague, not a graduate student. You must appear at your interviews as if you are a person who is already successfully employed as an assistant professor. Your clothes must be new and must fit you at your current weight, and be hemmed (sleeves, pants, skirt) to the appropriate length. Your clothes must be more formal than is customary in your department, because interviews require formal clothes. Your hair must be cut and styled. You must wear decent shoes that are appropriate for professional settings.

More to the point, you must square your shoulders, straighten your back, lift your chin, and loosen your elbows. Take up ALL the space in the chair (you can do this even if you are a small woman—it’s in the body language). Make direct eye contact. Do not, under any circumstances, fuss with your hair, clothes, or jewelry. Speak in a firm, level tone. Women, work on any tendency to a high pitched nasal tone. Speak in a lower register if you can—lower tones are the tones of authority, for better or worse. Smile in a friendly way at the beginning and end, but not too much while you’re talking about your work. Your work is important and deserves a serious delivery.   If a joke arises naturally in the conversation, though–run with it.  Search committees love a sense of humor, when it’s displayed in the course of smart collegial repartee.

Do. Not. Ramble.

Have short and pithy responses rehearsed so that they trip off your tongue easily and fluently. Always give the search committee the chance to say, “Oh, how interesting, tell us more!” And then follow up with another short and pithy elaboration.

To repeat: Do. Not. Ramble.

And lastly, the handshake. Oh my god, the handshake. If you do nothing else from this post, please, I beg you, do this. Get up from your computer, go find a human, and shake their hand. Shake it firmly. Really squeeze! Outstretch your arm, grip their hand with all your fingers and thumb, look them firmly in the eye, smile in a friendly, open way, and give that hand a nice, firm shake. Repeat. Do this until it’s second nature. If it doesn’t feel right or you aren’t sure if you’re doing it right, find an alpha male in your department, and ask him to teach you.

Banish the wet noodle handshake.

Seriously, grad students, butch it up.








The Six Ways You’re Acting Like a Grad Student (And how that’s killing you on the job market) — 63 Comments

  1. So in terms of appearance, what about makeup? Obviously glittery stuff is out, but should women who don’t usually wear makeup invest in some for interviews?

    • Good question. That is totally personal preference because the #1 thing is, you have to feel POWERFUL. If wearing makeup is going to make you feel weird and anxious, then no. If it’s going to make you feel excellent and put together, then yes. If you don’t usually wear it, you should try some out at home ahead of time and walk around in it, and get some reactions from people around you.

      Also, beware that makeup is pretty tricky, so if you really don’t usually wear it, don’t let the day of the interview be the first try! You have to get used to how the mascara rubs off or runs if you sneeze, when and how lipstick sticks to your teeth, and whether you have allergies to anything…. so, experiment, see how you feel, and test everything out a lot before the actual day. (Also, btw, do read my post on What Not To Wear if you want more on the appearance aspect of the job).

    • My conference trick — go to a Sephora or department store makeup counter nearby and get your makeup done. You’ll probably have to buy something, but at least you know that you’re looking sharp.

      I tell them (honestly): “I don’t know anything about makeup and just want a minimal look of foundation, some eye makeup, and a little lip tint.”

      (I hate wearing makeup, for what it’s worth.)

      (And I don’t know how well this would work daily… unless your conference hotel is surrounded by a multi-department-store mall. ;))

    • If you don’t usually wear makeup, why on earth would you wear it on an interview??

      The best advice I got was to be myself and be comfortable in how I was dressed. I wore and pantsuit. Comfy loafers. And since I *never* wear make up, I didn’t wear make up. If I would, I would have felt ridiculous. And if someone wasn’t going to hire me because they think women only look “put together” with make up on, I don’t want to work with them anyway.

      And a make up counter makeover? Egads!!

  2. Great post Karen. I would also add the importance of talking to professors when at social functions rather than hanging around in timid clumps with your peers.

  3. What a brilliant entry. I’m not a grad student but a teacher. Just thought the entry title was humorous. How hilarious. I hope it was well received. You would have to have a good rapport and be trusted to deliver that kind of honesty. Thanks for the chuckle. Years ago Harry Wong gave similar advice about attire to new teachers, many have still not heeded his advice. Have a great day!

  4. Another simply *brilliant* post. One grad student in my program became, hmm, a different person half a year before he went on the market: ditched the long hair for a very short haircut, started wearing more put-together outfits and was often seen carrying a yellow notebook and a nice pen firmly attached to it. He could also be seen talking with the profs with a new authoritative–border-line aloof–attitude, making large, confident hand gestures. And this was the very same reticent and fidgety guy from my first-year seminar! At the time I thought his transformation was weird and funny, but OK, I’m not laughing anymore. One’s intellectual and social identity has to evolve to get that TT job. Btw, the guy went on to get an TT job as an ABD, which is nothing short of a miracle in this job market.

  5. Pingback: How to Work the Conference (Part Two of Three) |

  6. Pingback: How To Ask A (Famous) Professor to be Your Dissertation Chair |

  7. I thought of #5 when I ran into my advisor and his family on Friday afternoon. I had my laptop on me and he asked, “Have you been typing away?” I said, “No. I made a yoga a priority today so now I’m going to try to get a few hours in. How’s your packing going?”

  8. My God. That wasn’t how I remember grad students being or how I experience them, or job candidates, as acting now. It *is* the behavior I discovered was expected of assistant professors, though — it was how you showed “respect” and “seriousness” — ! It ain’t good for ya and it ought to be resisted, yes.

    These posts make me think a fair amount about how different fields are. In my field, for instance, an undergraduate who applied to a PhD program with a dissertation topic already decided upon would actually be showing ignorance of field / unwillingness to explore: you just aren’t ready to make that kind of decision in the senior year of college. Knowing what your general interests are is of course necessary, and having really strong skills is essential.

    This is about another post (a how to get into grad school post) that I can’t find now — about being super perfect so as to get the best offer. I’m really not convinced about that since it’s those perfect people I’ve most often seen crash and burn *during* graduate school, drop out to wait on tables, etc.

    I DO really appreciate the straight story on how to make the best possible application. My undergraduate advisor was brilliant at this and I don’t think I technically needed the advice *then*, I had the right courses, grades, scores, and so on, and I was very likely to get in, but my advisor’s advice was applicable to all applications an proposals and to much more, and I use it to this day — so that advising session was a great teaching moment. I also appreciate communicating to people that it isn’t easy to get into graduate school, since a lot of my students think it’s as easy as getting into college. I have made a similar error myself, thinking Harvard Law would be as easy to get into as a Harvard PhD program, which it is not necessarily.

    But I still say, undergraduates should relax. I don’t mean on grades and so on, but maybe with lots of time off or something. I think all the nerves about perfection lead to the weird, submissive grad student behavior described here.

  9. Pingback: The Postdoc App: How It’s Different and Why |

  10. Pingback: Undermining Our Own Authority by Grace Yia-Hei Kao « Feminism and Religion

  11. Pingback: ProTips for academic job talks | My Blog

  12. Pingback: Rocking the Phone/Skype Interview |

  13. Pingback: Chat-Ching! Dealing With the Informal Conference “Chat” |

  14. Pingback: Don’t Ask Career Services for Help With Your CV | The Professor Is In

  15. You know, I see myself in your list of DO NOT DOs. I am guilty of numbers 4, 5, and 6. I hear myself rambling too. I am 3 weeks from completing my master’s and I am stressed. I am sure it shows in my interviews. I forget to breathe and ramble. I also sit on the edge of the chair like I am waiting for them to throw me out. Before I went to college I could get a job offer during the interview. Now, I struggle and I finally know why. I do the very things you have stated not to do. I did not do them before I went to college. I was confident and authoritive. Thank you!! Now lets see if I can land a job.

  16. I read your post yesterday, a couple of hours before my job interview. I did my best to follow your advice to be a professional, I only talked about my research when directly asked. I also didn’t apologize for not having any teaching experience but did point out the experience I have. I realized though that I am just not a very insecure person 😉
    Fingers crossed!

  17. Pingback: Useful Resources for the Academic Job Market | Ryan Cordell

  18. Pingback: Friday Morning « Gerry Canavan

  19. Pingback: Useful Resources for the Academic Job Market - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education

  20. Pingback: My latest at ProfHacker: Useful Resources for the Academic Job Market | Ryan Cordell

  21. Pingback: Useful Resources for the Academic Job Market « MSU_GradLife

  22. Pingback: Daily Link Roundup – 09-28-12 |

  23. Pingback: Diary of a Visiting Assistant Professor: week 6, an article and a conference | Patrick C. Fleming

  24. Pingback: Diary of a VAP week 10: the job market | Patrick C. Fleming

  25. I’m not sure if I have a high-pitched voice, but I’m also not sure how to lower my voice either. Is that something that can be achieved long-term by consistent concentration or only for short periods? And what pitch should I be going for?

  26. Thanks so much for bringing these to our attention. Question: how should I address committee members during the interview and pre-interview emailing process? I tend to feel more comfortable calling someone “Professor X” rather than by first name. Does this mark me as a grad student? Wouldn’t a normal job candidate refer to their interviewer by title and last name rather than simply first name?

    Thank you!

  27. Pingback: How Do I Address Search Committee Members? | The Professor Is In

  28. Great post – no surprise! I’m loving getting to know this blog- so many areas and aspects and sooo helpful (no jobs yet, but in making me *see* things as they really are, including myself!).
    I am ABD and about a year ago I made the ‘transformation’ and invested some money in nicer clothes, shoes and got a smart haircut. I felt completely uncomfortable at first, because if you are in the sciences and look around, the dress code is jeans and a t-shirt. There aren’t many female faculty to observe on appropriate (and comfortable) clothes. BUT, eventually I got used to it, and I recommend it for anyone who is a year out from graduating to at least try to dress up more than just for conferences to get a feel for what you can handle.

  29. Haha. #6 is so funny. I think that was me. When I graduated, I was even more insecure because I looked like a kid and no one would take me seriously, not even my condo lobby guard (until someone asked for me and used my title and they found out). This frustrates me. I want to find a way to make myself less insecure. It’s actually easier said than done. The only thing I do quite confidently, even before I got into graduate school, is the handshake and probably the way I speak. But pre-introductions, I seem to have a neon sign on my forehead that says “Lost Little Girl”.

    #1 is not applicable to me or any of my classmates, though. None of us wanted to talk about our dissertations, especially when we were stuck in a rut for months. And when I was done with mine, I’d much rather forget I did the study. Everyone else seemed happy with my dissertation…except maybe me.

  30. I am on the job market for the first time. Every person I’ve met that has interviewed me, both at the conference interview and during a campus visit, has had a wimpy handshake. Am I supposed to shake it back firmly anyway? I find this to be quite awkward.

  31. Good advice, but when talking about publishing your dissertation (or thesis, as we would say here in the UK) you talked about how everybody in your department thought it was too provocative and so on, thereby breaking 2 of your own rules (dissing your department and being paranoid). So, which is which?

  32. I feel ambivalent about the advice not to be submissive, because I’m aware of instances where a junior academic who is professional and assertive is met with a faculty member absolutely losing their shit because the person didn’t express the proper subordinate behaviour (another bonus “Worst Advisor”). This problem recurs in the hiring process, and then in the workplace, and is especially relevant for women, who are expected to walk a fine (and arbitrary) line between appearing TOO “aggressive” and too “submissive.” In my experience, women are expected to defer appropriately to the wisdom and authority of their superiors.

    • I would put it out there that if you, as a woman, cannot be comfortable being appropriately assertive in your work place, you should not be there. As a woman who is tall and solidly built, I know that I can be intimidating, but I always temper that by being kind, friendly, and open when applicable. However, I would NEVER take a position where I was expected to act more subservient because I am a woman. It is not fruitful or respectful. Could you really work in an environment which had gendered expectations about submission? That seems pretty dysfunctional for the 21st century. The real issue should be about respect, confidence and poise, not aggression or submission. It is appropriate to defer to people in authority if their position requires it, but you will not be respected at all if you are routinely submissive.

  33. This is great advice. It does, however, veer toward “what not to do” rather than what to do. I’m pretty sure I landed my second tenure-track job, because I was already a professor and as such came across as a colleague rather than a graduate student. It is very hard to put on the persona, but I would like to share how you can start to see/think like a faculty member rather than a graduate student. All this advice is aimed at SLAC search committee. At SLACs, the concern of professors across departments are simple: 1) Relationship to administration. 2) Course coverage in general education. 3) Retention of students. 4) The future of the college. Knowing this is what distinguishes you from graduate students. The first concern is tricky. The search committee will wait until you are hired before they unleash their fury of complaints about deans/president. Yet asking about the relationship between faculty and the dean is usually a safe topic. It is also safe to ask about the relationship between the president and dean. Don’t ask about the faculty/president relationship. For the second concern “course coverage in gen ed,” stand committed to the liberal arts. Know what the liberal arts education means if you’re looking for a job at a SLAC. The search committee would love for you to serve on labor-intensive committees, like General Education, etc., so they won’t have to, but they want to make sure you will stand up for the humanities or the sciences or the social sciences. If you’re like me, as a graduate student, you never even bothered to look up the Gen Ed requirements at your big R1 school. Now is the time to look at college catalogs if you’re going to an on-campus interview. The third concern about student retention is tricky. But if you ask about retention you might get sighs and eye-rolls, but if you have a geniune interest in how the faculty participates in student-retention programs, the search committee answers will give you lots of insight into the campus culture. The committee will also make sure you’re not the type to scare away students on the first day of class. Most colleges need to retain the students the admissions office worked hard to recruit, but faculty refuses to budge on standards: it’s a complicated dance. Show you are aware of teh issue, but don’t have all the answers. The fourth one is the easiest way for you to look like a professor. Ask about strategic planning and how the department will serve the plan. The professors may not like the plan — they may have their own vision. This is the time to find it out and articulate how you would help fulfill their vision. It might be about career prepartion for students or developing a new set of requirements in the major. Tell them the experience you have that would help you promote those areas in the department.

  34. do grad students really commonly talk at interviews about how people in their department are out to get them? this seems SO inappropriate I kind of can’t believe it. I am really paranoid, personally, about my chair hating me (not my work, just me)–and I just can’t imagine talking about this on a job interview. It would make me look so bad.

  35. Pingback: Advice For Preparing For The Job Market (For Scholars On The Margins) | Conditionally Accepted

  36. This is one of my favorite posts. I laughed out loud because everything said is true. I’m in the midst of shedding my grad-studenty way of being. It’s not easy but this post is a focused short cut to acting like a professional and an “adult.”

  37. Pingback: Some Friendly Advice for Female Graduate Students | Dr. Grace Kao

  38. Pingback: » Preparing for life post-PhD The Sociological Imagination

  39. This post is degrading to all PhD students. A lot of us have common sense in professional situations and understand that no one cares about our research except us (and we care about it enough to make up for the rest of the world).

  40. On the handshake front, I agree that a dead-fish handshake is a mistake. On the other hand, I have encountered handshakes (mostly from men, but occasionally from women) that actually hurt. I remember one guy at a conference that I warned my colleagues about. So if you’re getting your department’s alpha male to teach you, remember that “firm” and “I am trying to crush your bones” are different.

  41. As I think back to my graduate experience, this post is helpful for demonstrating some of the pitfalls that many graduate students experience (over-deference, solipsism with research/the dissertation, etc), but two things are relevant to those dynamics that I would add. 1) Let’s not forget that the culture of many graduate departments actually encourages a lot of that behavior: they tend toward hierarchy, where graduate students (if they’re lucky enough to get a TA/RA position) serve at the pleasure of their supervising faculty–crunching numbers, digging up cases, grading exams. The very nature of a Ph.D. program, too, ultimately tends toward specialization,and thus can encourage that solipsism. As you get acclimated to grad school, you are asked to specialize first in subfields, and then ultimately with the dissertation. In an environment that is structured such a way, is it really that surprising that grad students would pick up those habits? Especially since, if we are being very honest, faculty can be just as solipsistic about their research (only it is the latest book or article, not the dissertation). Which brings me to the next issue. 2) After more than a decade as a faculty member in higher ed, I have come to know that many of the same issues identified here don’t change when someone gets their Golden Ticket for a TT position. Believe me, there are just as many paranoid, insecure academics WITH a job (e.g., the department’s out to get me; the discipline’s out to get me) as grad students without. Certainly presenting yourself in a confident, competent, professional light is desirable, but we shouldn’t for one second assume that that is something that grad students have to “put on” — or otherwise overcome any inherent weaknesses to achieve.

  42. To agree with Maria, I actually find it irritating when someone has a handshake that is *too* firm. I am not going to think more of you if you are crushing my hand. And yes, it is usually coming from a man. Just sayin.

  43. Pingback: Repost from the professor is in | Winnie at UBC

  44. Pingback: » Is American higher education as horrible as ‘advice’ posts make it sound? The Sociological Imagination

  45. Pingback: Preparing for life after the PhD: retrain your brain - Jobs on Toast

  46. I’ve just stumbled upon this site while researching discrimination against women in academia. I have to say, I’m surprised and disappointed to find that the site perpetuates much of the discrimination that women have to deal with on a daily basis. I don’t give two flying flips if my handshake is weak, this does not make me a ‘grad student’ or mean that my capacity to teach and produce high level knowledge is less so than someone with strong hand muscles. Are you genuinely committed to the inclusion of women in academia or are you a Maggie Thatcher type who thinks that only women who act like men can cut the mustard?

    • I have been coming back to this post time and time again as I get further on in the job application process. At first, when I read this post, I felt like a sponge, absorbing all of the useful information that could potentially help me in my job search. The second time I came back and read it, I realized how good I actually was in relation to all the pitfalls talked about- I’m really not behaving like a grad student in that sense. Then, the third time I came back and read it today, I am getting that same sense that you are getting, Sarah, that there are undertones (or more overt tones) of sexism. It seems to me like like the author is not necessarily approving of sexism in academia, but has found a way to function and be successful that has these tones of sexism. I don’t think it’s necessarily horrible, because we all gotta do what we gotta do. And to some extent, I am guilty of doing the same things (acting more masculine to get somewhere in my field). I think that’s a product of society and what I have been rewarded for. For example, speaking assertively, almost to the point of being rude has been rewarded in my department often, even for female faculty. So it’s something that I have picked up more on, but I’m also very aware of it. I guess you could say I have a love-hate relationship with these traits that I have picked up because I know they benefit me, but to some extent, make me feel a little dirty sometimes because of exactly the reasons you have outlined in your post. I guess I just appreciate someone (you) bringing up this uncomfortable topic, and hope that it will generate healthy and thoughtful discourse. Thanks!

  47. As a male PhD student in computer science, I admittedly tend to smile benignly when gender discrimination is discussed (typically in a hysterical way), especially since the recently proposed gender-mainstream ‘redesigns’ of the german official language.
    But reading the suggestions and testimonials here puts things in a different perspective. Candidates are frowned upon for not using makeup in the US? Really? Aesthetics might tend to play a minor role in STEM, but to my european ears, this sounds sexist to an offensive extent. You should look civilized, i get that. As a guy, you should have a clean shave and not go in socks and sandals. But makeup? It’s a fashion thing, and chosing a pragmatic, natural look is interpreted as a typical trait of the intellectual trades around here.

  48. Appear as they want you to appear. Do what they want you to do. Do not question any structural inequalities, just do as I say and internalize the very misogynistic, authoritarian rules. You will be fine. You will get a job and you will like it, just as it is. Don’t change anything. Just do.

  49. This is an excellent post. The author has done us all a huge service.

    But think about this: all of these concerns have to be met for you to have a shot at teaching a one year appointment in crushed dream rock, Iowa.

    Academia is a compete and utter fraud. It’s collapse is inevitable and the outside society despises it (for good reason).

    The only thing in the article I disagree with is the idea that profs aren’t out to
    get their grad students. In my department these people didn’t just mess with students, but with each other. A toxic environment ruled by sociopaths.

    I’ve been deployed to Iraq twice, Afghanistan once, I’ve done disaster relief work in southeast Asia and in three U.S. states.

    The most vicious, underhanded, and callous people I have ever met are academics. I would rather go back to Iraq or Afghanistan than do my phd over.

    None of those people are worthy of respect. They are good at writing arcana that no one else wants to read. And they know it. Why do you think they are so hate-filled?

    It’s so awesome how I’ve prospered ten times more since finishing, outside of their blighted world. I’m back to how I was years ago. I’m driving sports cars, dating beautiful women from all over the world, and making more money than I can spend.

    My professors are still in the same rut they will be in for the rest of their lives. Complete loneliness and all human feeling sacrificed in order to more effectively produce arcana that no one cares about.

    I would feel sympathy If I didn’t know what awful people these idiots are.

    Of course none of that takes away from the author’s points. If you are going to play their shitty rigged game that has no real prize, follow what she has said. I’ve looked at her blog. She seems like a compassionate individual. It’s miraculous that a good person like Her has such an understanding of these monsters.

    • Wow. What on earth did your adviser do to you?

      Actually, scratch that. Why on earth did you go to graduate school if your goal was to drive a good car, date beautiful women, and make money? You’d be better off in medical school (which is just as bad as graduate school, I can personally attest to it) or law school.

      To be honest, it might be arcana to the rest of the world but to the grad students in the lab, it’s not that tiddlywinks. But to the rest of the world, relativity is also arcana, and you’re using it every time you use GPS.

      Did you actually GET a PhD? Depends on the field but in most sciences it’s not that lonely, unless everyone in the lab hates you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *