Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Rage

Lest you think I’d forgotten the complete title of this blog – Knitting Rage – let me assure you I have not. In New Jersey, rage was easy and superficial. Yell about the bad drivers, crazy maneuvers on the Garden State and call it a day. Although Michigan hosts an unusually large number of Sunday drivers, it’s nothing to get worked up about. I could whine about the lack of culture, our inability to find decent pizza, bagels or Indian food. But that’s whining, not rage.

Today’s rageful thought of the day is about choices and the inward rage that sometimes accompanies those choices. Every evening, after the girls are in bed and have had their 93rd drink of water, I put the kettle on for tea and curl up in my big brown chair. Most nights I cruise blogs for 20 minutes and then turn to knitting. Occasionally, I get off my duff and hit the sewing machine. But every night, I struggle with guilt. My work chirps at me: read a paper, analyze that data, write up those results, think of something brilliant! As a postdoc in science (albeit it biology education), there is a common stereotype that we (a) have no life, no hobbies, no interests outside of the lab and the corollary (b) all we do is work, work, work – 80+ hours a week. Even within my field, there is the perception that hobbies and family are unfortunate and only detract from one’s research.

So that is my rage – at the stereotypes, at the departmental perceptions, at my own inability to clearly define myself, my life, my research. There is rage at society and the trend to work more, harder, longer. There is rage at the growing perception that our work defines us.

This semester, I’m sitting in on a graduate seminar that’s all about the Mommy track – how to balance family and a career. As a mother, I am hoping to gain incite into balancing work and family and guilt. As a scientist, I’m interested in whether the what, why and how we teach can prepare our students to better maneuver this evolving landscape. I expect to pick up this thread several more times this spring. The role of gender in science and education is becoming increasingly interesting.

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