Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Crumblin' Down

After months of drifting in a semi-dreamlike state at work, things are finally getting interesting. The research I am involved in is biological in nature and we are based in a teaching hospital. As a result we have a number of research oriented doctors who also have clinical responsibilities within the hospital. This week, every single one of those doctors received a clinical contract with the hospital - everyone that is, except for the head of the department. Its a make or break thing - if the hospital thats paying for your chair isn't going to provide a clinical contract, things are looking rather unsettling to say the very least. Interesting times ahead, I suspect. Very interesting.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Another One Bites The Dust

I have a retirement party to attend this Friday night - the HoD's secretary is finally retiring at the ripe old age of 70. She has worked in the department for 15 years... has worked in the actual system itself for 40+ years.
And only 11 of us (including spouses) are making the time to farewell her. I have never been so disgusted by group of people in my life.
The most common excuse I have heard is "Oh but Friday night is such a bad night..."
Big fucking deal. With that attitude any night is inconvenient.
Next favourite "I never really worked with her".
Right. But it was totally ok for her to take your fucking phone messages for the last 5 years wasn't it? It was ok for her to bust her ass rearranging the HoD's schedule so you can hold your 15 minute meeting whining about the fact your 6 month old laptop has been superseded hey?
The lack of respect and lack of cohesiveness in this department has never been as evident as it is now. Exactly how hard is it to thank someone for their years of service? Why is the person who is bearing the brunt of the office politics, is the person who deserved it the least?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Welcome to the Jungle

Busy week last week. Out of nowhere, the Head of Department decides that we will put an application in for a small (100k over two years) grant. The bad news is it was due Friday and we were told Monday. The grant was focusing on a certain area and the boss charged the recently promoted PhD student to come up with a study. She failed miserably - by Wednesday she still didn't have a workable study. So he came to me. I fleshed out a workable study design and budget by Thursday morning, presented it to the HoD who promptly took it and ran with it. I worked my ass off all Thursday night to get the grant application completed and emailed it to him Friday for a final read through. And of course the bastard submitted it Friday afternoon with only HIS name on it - something I found out just a little too late.
At what point does one draw the line of where your work begins and someone elses begins? The HoD provided a general idea that he wanted investigated... I provided hypotheses, I provided the design, I provided the analyses. Hell I even wrote a chunk of the literature review too, which he added maybe a paragraph total. Am i wrong in thinking my name should have been at least on the grant as an associatiev investigator, if not more?
This is my entire problem with the department in a nutshell - having a track record is very important to any future career I might have. And we (I am not the only one who is being treated this way) aren't being credited for the work we do. For all intents and purposes we are fresh slates as far as the rest of the research world is concerned, even though we may have been involved in countless grants. To even get our names on papers we have worked on is like pulling teeth. I have bought this up in front of the HoD and was given a written warning for being a troublemaker - apparently we are meant to work for the greater good of the department. I have talked to people higher up and been told not to cause trouble for fear of shooting myself in the foot. This has me confused though - I would have thought that the sooner they have us producing, bringing in grants/money of our own, the better off the department would be.
So there we sit, day after day - watching the HoD's career skyrocket... and watching our own flatline.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

I See Red

Conversation last week:

Head of Department: Oh and can you do t-test between groups on age please?
Me: No I can't - for some reason they collected the data on age in age GROUPS, not as a continuous type variable.
HoD: And?
Me: Well it means chi-squares - which I have already tried - and unfortunately there aren't enough subjects in the study for this. Have also tried collapsing cells but the population is pretty skewed down one end
HoD: Well if there aren't enough people for a chi-square try a t-test.
Me: No... you cannot do t-tests on a what is essentially a categorical variable
HoD: But if u do a t-test it will give me an idea of the average age.
Me: You can't use the average of a category...imagine trying to find the average sex...?
HoD: And whats the problem with that???

(Exit RGal stage left, in total disbelief)

Friday, September 17, 2004

Smooth Operator

It took until Tuesday morning for my reply to the email to make it back to the Head of the Department. And it took 5 mins for him to order me to do the work. So i flatout asked him what was i meant to shelve to get this done. The international collaboration he asked me to be involved in because he didn't have time? His PhD students that he is meant to be supervising but have ended up on my plate? The three papers I have to rewrite for him? The analysis I was meant to be doing for another one of his cronies? The analysis for one of our major grants that is coming to a close and we need to write a report for? The keynote I have to write for him for a major conference at the end of October?
The only acknowledgement he even gave towards the my current workload was "Oh you have a bit on your plate at the moment don't you?" before he launched headon into an explanation of how important analysing this trivial piece of shit data is to *us*. Yes he had the gall to use *us* in an attempt to engage my interest. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor for that one because the only important thing about that data is that my name isn't associated with it at all. Yes, the study really is that bad.
I asked him to send an email to his cronies explaining why I can't do the work required on their projects for 10 days so - I refuse to see why I should bear the brunt of their ire regarding yet another delay with their work. Of course it took him until Thursday to do it, but at least I am not the one caught in the crossfire yet again. Its time to make him responsible for his decisions - ResearchGal is no longer going to be FallGal.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Working for the weekend...

Email just in:
Hi,
The head of the department will have let you know about this data attached. I am prersenting the data at the XXXXX conference in XXXXX on 27th September.
Thanks so much for your help, please let me know if any questions or whatever,
Thanks
Dr. XXXXXXX

My Reply:
I'm sorry to inform you but in typical fashion, this has not been mentioned to me at all. I have no idea if I will be able to even look at this data due to the fact I am already overextended. I also have no idea if my services have been volunteered to anyone else without any warning. At this point in time I can't even give you a vague estimation of when this will be done. To ensure its done in time, you might also want to consider contacting one of the commercial services to look at your data.

Wonder how long it will take for this email to make its way back to the head of department. I also wonder what time on Monday the HoD will walk in and order me to do it, after he's done swanning around the nearest tropical paradise.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Do I stay or do I go now?

Ok I have now moved from feeling devalued to just feeling like I am literally the invisible woman. For the past year we have been functioning without a senior research person. Alot of the responsibilty has fallen on two sets of shoulders - another research officer who is working on one particular project, and mine.
The other research officers duties relating to the SRO position have only been specifically related to her project. Everything else has been dumped on me. I get to manage the students. I get to edit/proof read the papers. I get to manage junior staff in directions the analysis of the research should take. I get to oversee the purchase of major equipment. I am not employed on one particular project - infact more often than not I am the troubleshooter they drag in at the end when they realize the project is fucked up beyond belief.
For the past two weeks the SRO position has been advertised (I only know that because the secretary happened to mention it). Here is the complicated part though - our department is a mix of university and government employees. The other research officer and myself are both university employees. The SRO position is a government position. When I heard the position was being advertised I rang the appropriate HR department and asked the status on the position - was it to be filled within the government only, or could university employees apply? I was told it was to be filled from within the government - they would only advertise it externally if it couldn't be filled from within. Still I persisted. What if I had already taken on alot of what the position entailed, I asked. No, sorry came the response. What if I could get the Head of the Department to support the fact that I already had taken on board alot of the duties? No sorry, your resume will not be looked at.
I left it at that. I couldn't talk to the Head of the Department about it because he is sailing around some tropical island right now. Today was the last day for applications. I walked into the other research officers office this afternoon to ask her if she had noticed something about one of the programs we use. She was working on her resume.
"Oh, are you going for another job?", I asked.
"Yeah the SRO's position" she replied.
"But they are filling that from within the government first..."
"Well Head of the Department told me to apply and he'd pull a few strings".
WHAT
THE
FUCK?
I walked out, before I said anything I might regret at a later stage. Nearly a decade of loyal service and this is how I am treated? I sat back down at my desk, pulled up my resume, immeadiately posted it on the various internet jobseeker sites and started browsing advertised positions. I am beyond stunned. What do I do? Do I confront HR with what I know now? Do I wait until I see if the position is indeed filled by this bit of fluff? Do I even say anything at all - if I do I better make sure I have a job to go to, because this is going to be professional suicide...

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Diving In

Academics can be very difficult to work with, particularly if they don't consider you to be one of them. They place value on something which they think you don't have much of. Some have spent their entire lives in the ivory tower. There is all too frequently a toxic mix of extremely high intelligence and stunted social skills. Being young enough to be one of their children is not terribly helpful. And I suppose being female may be a disadvantage as well.

I am so mother fucking tired of being condescended to on a daily basis that I don't know what to do with myself anymore. Go get drunk every lunchtime at the pub? Crawl into bed and sleep? Just quit outright at the end of the week with no firm plan in place? Yesterday I came dangerously close to telling the person directly in charge of me that I want out for real. He's knows I'm frustrated lately, but doesn't appear to give a shit. I am desperately looking for a new job but there is nothing out there.

I was about ten minutes into my bus ride to work yesterday when it dawned on me that I was crying. Yes crying. On public transport. Anger, fear, frustration and derision, yes those are emotions I've experienced on an increasingly regular basis. This was something more though. I just felt so ... devalued. That sounds petty and childish and naive, I know. But it actually *hurt*.

So, I am just at a crossroads. I don't want to be a selfish, whiny baby but I have to move forward. The problem is I am too scared. And that realization hurts more than anything else.