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Just drinking a glass of red wine and trying to figure out what to do with myself now that my quarter is officially over. I just spent the last five days writing two ten page papers. The good news is my writing is getting faster. The bad news is I’m not sure faster is producing better quality. Both papers focused on themes I’m developing for my dissertation, so it wasn’t like I was creating them from scratch. I had been researching them for weeks. On the other hand, getting the actual writing done was left until the last week. I hate it when I procrastinate. I need to impress my professors with my insightful writing, not turn in stuff with typos or organizational problems.

Also, teaching, what’s up with that? I’m great at helping students with their work. That’s important, I feel good about it. On the other hand I suck at recording grades. I only had 40 or so students this quarter and yet I couldn’t keep track of all their paperwork. It’s true, they turned in a lab every week, so that’s a lot of paper, but still! I can’t believe how many time students have pointed out that I haven’t managed to get their grade into blackboard. One or two mistakes, ok, but this is getting close to double digits!

This brings me to my own academic ambitions. In my heart of hearts I would love to get a job at a SLAC (small liberal arts college) and yet, the idea of a job at a research U. where I would never having to do my own grading again is appealing. I need a research assistant to help me stay organized. In this economy I will be lucky to get any job, but a girl can dream!

Years ago I made a joke to some coworkers that I needed a wife. One of them was not amused by my comment. I was just saying that my husband was crap at keeping the house organized and I’m no good at that type of thing either. I would really value having someone around who could help me stay organized. If only I could afford to pay such a person well!

Related book:

Waring, Marilyn. Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth. 2nd ed. University of Toronto Press, 1999.

Waring, a MP from New Zealand, outlines how the accounting systems of nations (like GNP) systematically discount the work of women.

Best quote: “when a man marries his housekeeper the GDP goes down.”

Also, as heard on NPR:

Rent-a-Negro

Need to show off your multicultural-ness? This is the website for you! Buy the book today!


Assuming that all students should learn some science, just to become educated citizens, should scientists in training be expected to learn a little social theory?

Should they read a little Foucault? a little Haraway?

Should they learn about the history of their own disciplines? Maybe read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions?

I, like many in academia, have a love-hate relationship with social theory. If I lived in a sane world, I would probably be a marine biologist, that’s what I dreamed about as a child. But as I grew up I realized that science wasn’t enough, that science wasn’t solving the world’s problems in the way the Enlightenment promised.

Now I do my best to read some of those difficult social thinkers and writers, so that I can try to understand some of the crazy things we do to each other and the planet. Reading social theory isn’t fun. It’s work. Some of what I read is just pompous crap, created in order to position the author as cutting edge and get him published, tenured, or promoted. Yet some social theory helps me understand the world and function more effectively in it and because of that I think it is worth the work. I also don’t think scientists should allow themselves to be intimidated by the unfamiliarity of the subject, the name dropping, or the attitude of some social theorists. It pisses me off when people use social theory to dominate and silence others.

So, my friends, what do you think? What social theory (if any) is important for scientists to know? If you were creating a class for new graduate students in a science field that would introduce them to concepts in social theory and make them better scientists, what would you include?