are bosses in biology generally mean?

What do you hate or don't understand in the lab? What do you love about the research lifestyle?

Moderators: Andrew Wiecek, Suzanne

are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby researchwoman » Dec 01 2009 10:17 pm

hi
I was wondering about whether bosses in biology are generally mean and abusive based on my PhD and postdoc.
I have been very keen on pursuing a career in basic research but feel put off by the nasty personalities I have encoutered.
My constant experience of 8 and a half years in this field has been 'finish and flee'.
It seemed better pastures are elsewhere. Now I no longer feel so.
I worked on my personality and presentation skills and now have enough confidance to know my capacity at work.
If I were a boss (a reasonable one) I would be happy to have me-sincere, hardworking, dedicated and independent thinking and generally pleasent.
So my other conclusion was that this field puts more pressure as one goes up the ladder. So it encourages meaner and more abusive to get to faculty and senior positions!
It isn't just me that had bad experiences with supervisors. Many of my contemporaries during PhD had similar experiences.

Whats your opinion about this? Does this happen in Industries too or is the industry seting somehow able to attract the nicer guys.

ww
researchwoman
Prolific Post-Master
Prolific Post-Master
 
Posts: 236
Joined: Apr 23 2008 12:16 pm

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby mchlbrmn » Jan 06 2010 11:50 pm

Bah. Humbug.

Edit 2015.1.13: I revisited this post, and saw my first post "bah, humbug" was misinterpreted.
I apologize to Research woman, if you see this, and anyone else offended. I did not mean to belittle or dispute her post at all. It was just intended to be a humorous quip of me pretending that everyone in science was mean hearted, so I posted that way, not realizing it might be taken literally. I forgot that written posts can be misinterpreted. Again, I'm sorry.
Last edited by mchlbrmn on Jan 13 2015 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
mchlbrmn
ModSquad
ModSquad
 
Posts: 3990
Joined: Dec 13 2005 6:03 pm
Location: Boston, USA

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby researchwoman » Jan 07 2010 9:30 am

It's not humbug. I did my Masters and PhD in Asia under a very abusive supervisor, and it was similar for most of my contemporaries in the institute.
I tried to be more careful in my selection of postdoc and unfortunately realized that constant verbal abuse and humiliation was the norm.
However, after my post in the forum, I actually faced this issue and changed my working relationships such that I no longer interact with the abusive person and report directly to someone more superior.
He is fortunately non-abusive and reasonable.
It might be true that everybody is not mean. And that might be humbug. And that was my perspective after 8 years in this field and seeing mean supervisors. I am glad for you that you did not face such things, as apparent from your post.
And I am glad that I decided to do something about my situation and made my working environment more productive and peaceful, rather than pretend the problem did not exist.
Thats all I can say.
researchwoman
Prolific Post-Master
Prolific Post-Master
 
Posts: 236
Joined: Apr 23 2008 12:16 pm

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby sing09 » Jan 29 2010 2:53 am

Well, you can find abusive, unreasonable people in every professional field. Working in this field for so many years, and in different parts of the world, I matured quickly and learned that it is important to keep integrity and to make it clear, from the beginning, that abuse is not acceptable, in a diplomatic manner. As a matter of fact, I am working in Asia at the moment, and I see that here the culture is very much based in hierarchy. This opens space for abusive, unfair behavior by the boss. I believe this is the very reason for you to have encountered such problem. People in Asia "respect" -- or fear, one may say -- other people just for being in higher ranking positions. When the boss says something, even if it is utterly idiotic, all will lower their heads and not say a word. Open discussion are usually not encouraged, which should be completely unacceptable, specially in the science field. Since I was trained in the U.S., I feel the scrutiny when I open my mouth, and being a woman forces me to be even more incisive in order to put my point across. The scrutiny here has nothing to do with the quality of my work (I wish!), but with the fact that I am challenging authority. My boss has called me "arrogant" in front of everyone in the lab, which is definitely not how my overseas colleagues have seen me. Would you call this abusive? Well, I would call it a disrespect, an insult, but one chooses to be offended or not. I am definitely strong-minded and confident about the quality of my work, and I wonder if he would have said that to a male with the same qualities. Nevertheless, as a professional in the U.S. I was viewed in a positive way for the same qualities. Amazing how your image can be completely mutate when you change environments without changing a single thing about yourself!

The point I am trying to make is that the way the boss treats you has a lot to do with his character, but it also has a lot to do with how you present yourself, how you react to his character. It has to do with gaining respect. Every relationship, professional or not, has be worked on. You should never take anything on the personal side and should choose not to get offended. Keep in mind that at work you have to keep professionalism. But hey, you've got to understand the definition of professionalism first.

If you plan on going into the science field, or any other field for that matter, you should be prepared to face a lot of issues and use your experience in your favor in order to mature. Any area of work that will require strong dedication from your part will show challenges. Are you the kind of person that likes challenges? If so, then I believe you will take the best out of it. If not, choose something easy.

Cheers,
Sing09

Not affiliated with any distributor or manufacturer of scientific goods/instrumentation. Mentioning a product is a result of personal preference and does not imply my endorsement of the product to the exclusion of other equally good ones.
sing09
Prolific Post-Master
Prolific Post-Master
 
Posts: 179
Joined: May 08 2009 12:35 am

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby talkingtree » Mar 23 2010 9:56 am

if i look at it from another point of view, perhaps you are not good in lab? your supervisors find you useless? all those fundings they fought for was wasted? these kind of information was not provided
talkingtree
PI of Posters
PI of Posters
 
Posts: 260
Joined: Jul 04 2009 12:29 am

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby JMG » May 07 2010 8:11 pm

Wow talkingtree - you sure put an end to this topic fast...

Too bad ... I have enjoyed interacting with researchwoman and sing09 for quite a while now,
and I would immediately want them to be in my lab in any country.

Some current stats on women in science weigh heavily against being a woman in science.

#1 reason: Men in science.

No one realizes what it is to be on the receiving end of a megalomaniacal whip
until you've been there (for the last 3 million years). So, a little empathy for the
statements these women very clearly shared here, and a little more effort on your
part in responding to this important topic may actually be worth your time.

It's easy to accuse people of being 'poor lab workers' to avoid addressing the
real concerns that were voiced here.

In addition, I do think 'bah humbug' would be the right sentiment if allowed to be said by the women
in science at some point - without fear of repercussion or usual demeaning male banter.

Turning into a mean or indifferent scientist is definitely not my cup of tea - (but there are
many out there in positions of POWER).

As for actually turning into one, even eventually, to quote Jack Nicholson: "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes"

JMG
JMG
PI of Posters
PI of Posters
 
Posts: 620
Joined: Dec 19 2008 3:13 am

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby sing09 » May 10 2010 4:08 am

Hi JMG,
Just returning from beautiful Sorrento, Italy, as usual, you surprise me. I had decided not to respond to this one for obvious reasons, but coming from you, it's refreshing! Needless to say, working with you would definitely be an enriching experience. Thanks for the support!
Sing09
Sing09

Not affiliated with any distributor or manufacturer of scientific goods/instrumentation. Mentioning a product is a result of personal preference and does not imply my endorsement of the product to the exclusion of other equally good ones.
sing09
Prolific Post-Master
Prolific Post-Master
 
Posts: 179
Joined: May 08 2009 12:35 am

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby r.rosati » May 12 2010 2:24 pm

JMG wrote:As for actually turning into one, even eventually, to quote Jack Nicholson: "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes"

JMG


Well, there are alternatives. Facing lab problems right now, I'm daydreaming of opening a little "pousada" hotel in front of the beautiful ocean in Santa Catarina, Brasil. That's definitely better than sticking needles into my eyes. Ouch.
r.rosati
ModSquad
ModSquad
 
Posts: 2150
Joined: Nov 04 2002 3:23 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby sing09 » May 13 2010 12:40 am

Well, there are alternatives. Facing lab problems right now, I'm daydreaming of opening a little "pousada" hotel in front of the beautiful ocean in Santa Catarina, Brasil. That's definitely better than sticking needles into my eyes. Ouch.


I've considered doing the same thing, though I am very far away from Brazil at this moment. It's tempting, but it is also very hard to give up on everything that comes with the needles, isn't it? :wink:
Sing09

Not affiliated with any distributor or manufacturer of scientific goods/instrumentation. Mentioning a product is a result of personal preference and does not imply my endorsement of the product to the exclusion of other equally good ones.
sing09
Prolific Post-Master
Prolific Post-Master
 
Posts: 179
Joined: May 08 2009 12:35 am

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby relaxin » May 14 2010 7:53 pm

Well, I just wander into this forum and find this interesting topic. Since I had been both student and professor, I can put in my two cents on both sides. Just to be fair, there are equal number of good and bad professors. It must be your bad luck to encounter all bad ones. In industries, I would say most bosses are mean and cut-throat. They step on other people's heads in order to climb up the ladder. In academia, the environment is more civil, and less cut-throat. But the freshly minted assistant professors are more eager to get the tenure and have less patience for slow progress. That is understandable. So you have to find more seasoned professor as mentor. There is also an issue of compatibility. Just like marriage, one student works fine with one professor, but not with another. Before you join one lab, you can talk to the people there and find out the temperament of the future boss.

On the issue of gender difference, in general, male professor is more lenient towards female student than male one. Female professor tends to focuss on small things, such as how long you take your "rest room break".

I do believe that you have to earn your respect from your professor by doing good work. Your good work will be assessed by the number of paper you published.
Retired academic researcher. Mention of a specific product does not imply my endorsement of the product. No conflict of interest or guarantee to work on the advice given. Do as I say, not as I do. Not liable to the loss of your valuable samples.
relaxin
PI of Posters
PI of Posters
 
Posts: 7190
Joined: Jan 11 2006 5:40 pm
Location: Mauna Kea

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby Suzanne » May 15 2010 6:48 pm

In my experience, I've encountered more difficult or "mean" bosses in academics. It played a role in my decision to leave academics. Relaxin- are you in industry too?

In industry, everyone is on the same team, working together to create a product that will make money for the company. Everyone wants everyone to succeed because the whole team benefits. We want to create the best and most unique inventions and we need everyones' brain power to do it.

However, in academics, I observed much more ego, back-stabbing, and jealousy among lab members and between PIs.
With my R&D team, there is no jealousy. Everyone helps each other. Our success is shared.

However, perhaps in other companies it isn't this way. I am sure there are warped personalities everywhere.

When I was in graduate school, there were a few woman PIs who were pretty mean. In fact, I was treated far better by men PIs who viewed me as just a scientist in training. Some of the woman were mean simply because that was how they were treated in grad school (by men) and so they wanted to make sure that the female grad students had an appreciation of what they went through. There was one person in particular who only had men grad students because they were the only ones that could handle her overt abuse. Another was more passive aggressive abusive so women would start in her lab but usually switched after some time.

I've also worked with or known male PIs that were abusive (I won't share any stories but it would blow your mind).

It is unfortunate that some PIs choose to continue the cycle of abuse.

I guess stress has a lot to do with it and also maybe a lack of management training. Just because you can write a grant proposal doesn't mean you can manage people. And I agree that not every person is a good fit and knowing how to choose people with the personality that fits with your style is important.

Of course, this is all in retrospect so we all have to learn the hard way.

Suzanne
http://www.mobio.com/blog
Visit The Culture Dish!
Suzanne
ModSquad
ModSquad
 
Posts: 999
Joined: Feb 14 2003 1:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby relaxin » May 16 2010 6:47 pm

I have not worked in industries at all. But I heard enough horror stories to fill a book. A couple of my postdocs returned to academic positions. I guess it all depends on the company. Some companies were started by former professors, and they carried on the academia environment for their staff. For others, it is a jungle, survival of the fittest.
Retired academic researcher. Mention of a specific product does not imply my endorsement of the product. No conflict of interest or guarantee to work on the advice given. Do as I say, not as I do. Not liable to the loss of your valuable samples.
relaxin
PI of Posters
PI of Posters
 
Posts: 7190
Joined: Jan 11 2006 5:40 pm
Location: Mauna Kea

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby sing09 » May 17 2010 12:57 am

These are very interesting comments. I just wish I were working in a team like Suzanne's. I think that all scientific environment should be a productive one with people working as a team, being academics or industry. I also believe that the behavior of the lab members has a lot to do with how the PI manages the lab. I have been lucky to have mostly good or ok PI's, not really abusive, except in one occasion, I had to deal with the abusive PI's secretary! But I heard so many of those horror stories and actually saw some of them happening. Abusive behavior by PI's is certainly a concrete and wide-spread problem. I wonder why academic institutions do not do anything about this, like offering management training, as Suzanne has pointed out.
Sing09

Not affiliated with any distributor or manufacturer of scientific goods/instrumentation. Mentioning a product is a result of personal preference and does not imply my endorsement of the product to the exclusion of other equally good ones.
sing09
Prolific Post-Master
Prolific Post-Master
 
Posts: 179
Joined: May 08 2009 12:35 am

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby mchlbrmn » Jun 16 2010 9:21 pm

My university does have some management training available among other offerings. It's up to the individual to take initiative to sign up and take a course. I've also seen a seminar on how to deal with a difficult personality, or emotion-charged issues.
mchlbrmn
ModSquad
ModSquad
 
Posts: 3990
Joined: Dec 13 2005 6:03 pm
Location: Boston, USA

Re: are bosses in biology generally mean?

Postby fcs » Aug 05 2010 9:45 pm

I held several positions in academia (biology research) and I did find my bosses to be very mean (as compared to industry). PIs are always stressed about having to write grants and publishing papers and they tend to take it out on their employees IMO.
fcs
technician-in-training
technician-in-training
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 21 2009 4:06 pm

Next

Return to Rants and Raves

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron