Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Deer in the headlights...no MORE

Yes, we can raise confident female scientists. And at any age. I’m begging at age 36 as a 5th year graduate student. I hope to defend this December, and look forward to begging a new post doc as a CONFIDENT FEMALE SCIENTIST.

Step 1:

We must be prepared to address any absurdity that comes out of the mouth of our PI’s or other members of our lab. We can not just stand there like a deer in the headlights, unable to respond to the passive aggressive tones or the arguments/statements dribbling from their mouths apparently based on some unfounded assumptions.

With out immediate and proper action on our part we will be the punching bag of all in the lab. We will be perceived as desperate, weak, sad and worst of all, dumb. Most who do this do so unknowingly; but it's harmful all the same. You will find others beginning to distance themselves and over time your environment will become more and more toxic.

So how do we stop the silent abuse and the passive/aggressive conversations from happening to us; respond intelligently and with confidence. By realizing some people are very lazy, that they would rather not fight if they don’t have to, by learning to identify when we are in one of those “deer in the headlight” moments, and acting to inhibit further access to the “kick me” pathway!

I am providing what I hope will be a growing list of absurd statements that either I’ve lived through or situations provided by others with the idea of tagging ideas of APPROPRIATE responses.

Over time we will stop FREEZING and actually think quickly enough to say something back...as the freakin‘ moment is happening. We can wish we had the perfect thing to say under certain circumstances, but unless we practice we will always be the deer. We need ideas and we need good ones with humor.

I also encourage any to add their own 2 cents. I am leaving some blank and could use a suggestion or two as to the best comeback possible. We have lots to learn from each other and I welcome the opportunity.

Here we go:

1. “I’m sure you already know this, but....”
Example from my PI (Dr. Ass Hole): Dear CONFIDENT FEMALE SCIENTIST, I was mucking around with plasmid 61, and realized that the right side target is put in with R1-Apa1 fragment instead of R-Sal1. The apa1-apa1 fragment from pRS406 is also deleted. You may already know all this, but just in case. I think plasmid 61LR is made the same way, but i would double check with digests to make sure. I can dig in my notes to confirm this --though I did a digest of plasmid 61 and everything seems as I have stated here.
a) NEVER, NEVER, NEVER trust any plasmid given to you by anyone. ALWAYS, ALWAYS ALWAYS double check it yourself. This will save you months of time!
b) Nothing is ever as it is STATED HERE (I know he wanted to say “as stated here Bitch” but we are not quite there yet). This is one of those times where I realized, “shit, here we are again”. Having experienced this many times before however, I was able to respond with the following:

Dear Dr. Ass Hole,
Thank you. After double checking the plasmid you gave me by digest and T3/T7 sequencing, I was able to....” you get the point.

For fun I added a statement of how much progress I made dispite his carelessness:
“....Anyways, in order to make the construct I went back to my plasmid 61H:U:H, popped out the HUH and cloned in the new fragment. I'm confirming now.”

Dr. Ass Hole’s response:
“I am not sure what the story is now with 61 plasmids....I have to go back and
sort out how I sorted this out. apa1 issues are now vague...looks to me like
61 LR and 61 + frag have the 1.3kb apa1 vector fragment in them...I suggest you check the 61 flanking sequences..make sure they don't cut with sac1 or sal1.”

d) Notice the end of his statement? He didn’t even read and/or process my prior e-mail where I told him I’m not even using his plasmid. agggggggggggggggggggggg. Breath in, breath out. Resend my email, this time repeat “I am not using the plasmid you gave me. Good luck with your trouble shooting. Best, CONFIDENT FEMALE SCIENTIST

Example number 2 in the next episode of the "Confident Female Scientist"