Michelangelo approached the craft of sculpting with the humble conviction that a unique and beautiful piece of art already existed within the stone, and his job was only to release it. The best mentors approach their art in the same way: helping mentees become who they want to be, not who the mentor thinks they should be. But it can be a challenge for mentors to use the Michelangelo approach when they’re mentoring someone of the opposite gender, especially when men are mentoring women. One reason for it may be that when it comes to key interpersonal skills such as listening, men sometimes struggle with the sort of active listening required to help a mentee gradually unearth her unique ideal self. To use the Michelangelo method, male mentors should beef up their listening skills, check their assumptions at the door, and practice humility.
I wanted to get a chance to get back to the blog all weekend, but was distracted by mothering and wife-ing. Twitter was a flitter at the end of last week with discussion of what faculty look for in a personal statement. At the beginning of it all seems to be this tweet…
Why does every PhD applicant start their essay with “since I was young, I have been curious”
— Leslie Vosshall (@pollyp1) January 4, 2018
…quickly followed by another lamenting the number of personal statements a senior faculty member reads about dying grandmothers.
Now, I have to confess the dirty little secret that I have had the same feelings of “why” while reading personal statements. That said, my discomfort doesn’t come from a place of contempt for these young people’s experiences. It comes from the uncomfortable repetition that comes from reading these statements and realizing that students feel obligated or expected to convince faculty that they are promising young scientists because of early life experiences. That they have to convince us that their passion comes from the traumatic or formative experiences they’ve had from cradle. This expectation is coming from somewhere and I think we all owe it to our students (PhD and professional school candidates) to communicate that they are not obligated to tell us about these experiences.
The end of your PhD is one of the most hectic times of your life. You have a huge list of experiments to finish, papers to complete, a thesis to write, a defense to prepare for, as well as the small matter of applying for jobs, attending interviews, and making all sorts of huge life decisions. However, if you do end up choosing to do a postdoc, you are going to wake up one day and find that your life is drastically slowing down. As an early-stage postdoc, your work is not going to proceed at the same pace as when you are finishing up your PhD project. What’s more, it would be untenable for anyone to keep up with that crazy pace of work and life for a sustained period of time! Here are five of my top tips to help you shift gears and successfully adapt to life as an early-stage postdoc.
Study finds male Ph.D. candidates submit and publish papers at significantly higher rates than their female peers, even within the same institution. The majors drivers of that gap remain unclear, but one factor is that women teach more during their Ph.D. programs and men serve more often as research assistants.
We are pursuing our doctoral degrees during a time of significant change and disruption in higher education. Public scrutiny of colleges and universities due to issues related to increasing tuition costs, access to higher education, and student and faculty diversity is growing. We are also seeing a perceived disconnect between the education and skills that colleges provide and the needs of an evolving workforce. Public perceptions of administrative bloat and the growing debate over higher education as a public or private good also continue to challenge colleges and universities.