Friday, September 28, 2012

Jobs and odds and ends

Its job hunting season again. Which means a certain amount of paralysis on my part. In previous years,  I've done a lot of other very productive things in an attempt to avoid working on job packets. I look at the open emacs buffer where my research statement should be, or the e-mail address of people I am supposed to network with, and .... keep staring. Yesterday we found a solution. I grab my partner's computer and play angry birds while dictating e-mails to contacts and outlines of research statements. My partner looks at the computer screen. Tell me I'm not the only one with this type of strategy?


I got an e-mail from my current position informing me that I have 10 days of vacation in 2012. Um.... Right. I recognize that for legal reasons employers need to tell employees these things. But what does this mean if the job is such that taking those 10 days of vacation is not actually plausible? As academics we struggle with vacation time. Whether it is as a grad student or post doc working with a PI who directly blocks vacation time, or indirectly makes it hard for one to take time off, or it is due to workloads we face due to our own ambitions, teaching loads, or external circumstances, or anywhere in between.


On of the jobs I'm applying for asks for a supporting statement covering my activities during the last 10 years of my life! A biography?! I blog. I clearly like writing/talking about myself, so this could be a fun way to take a reader through my academic journey. But really? 10 years? If I had taken a more traditional path through grad school, or done so in certain European countries, this could leave me talking about late high school. The other thing that struck me about the description of supporting documents is that it specifically stated that I should include information like time taken off to care for/raise a family. I think this would be illegal in the US. I understand the need for women to explain gaps in their resumes due to time spent taking care of the very young, the very old or the very sick. But there is so much discrimination, conscious and unconscious that women and minorities face. I question whether, on the whole, talking about such gendered jobs explicitly helps a woman more by showing that the time off was "legitimate" or hurts her more by reminding the potential employer of her gender.

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