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A first year grad students pet peevs - Jul 31, 2008 at 8:51PM
Blay
50 Posts

Hey

So, as much as we all love physics, what really irritates you about the field?  

I'm just starting graduate school, doing research over the summer,  and one thing I notice is how cut throat academia is.  I hate how pressured young graduate students feel to publish.  The sentiment I'm already feeling is "publish or perish."  It seems more important to get a lot of publications then a few really ground breaking ones. This is a major cause of stress.  Physics has always been so much fun to study; I'm just hoping the stress to fun ratio doesn't get out of control.

Other things peev me off as well....but most of these are more about the social dynamics of scientific academia.  People generally have big egos...and if their ego gets trampled, you better believe they are going to give you a hard time!  I've already heard horror stories about how a few men, disappointed that they didn't get an NSF fellowship, will vent on the women who did, by saying the only reason they got the fellowship was because of their gender.  As a female in physics, this is an issue that comes up often and it's sad that it does.

I'm curious....what really irritates you about physics?  Do social issues in  physics ever seem as hopeless as the physics GRE?   Do these problems ever seem so overwhelming that they make you question why you are here in the first place?

Post edited July 31, 2008 at 8:52 PM EST.

Post edited July 31, 2008 at 8:53 PM EST.


Replies to A first year grad students pet peevs

Re: A first year grad students pet peevs - Aug 11 2008 5:00PM
Felix Lin
24 Posts

It is very unfortunate that people feel the need to take out their own failures to get what is a very prestigious and very difficult grant out on others.

You are right that all people tend to think highly of themselves, though I would argue that Physicists tend to be even more egotistical than people in general, because they tend to be more intelligent and they also grasp the fundamental mechanics of the universe in a way that the untrained layperson does not.  It's hard to always know more about a situation than most others and not let it go to your head.



Re: A first year grad students pet peevs - Oct 24 2009 12:23AM
Erica Hopkins
2 Posts

I'm in high school and am female. Are there really as many gender issues as you would think or is it blown more out of proportion than it really is?



Re: Re: A first year grad students pet peevs - Oct 26 2009 1:28AM
David Jacome
9 Posts

Hi Erica,

My name is David, I'm the associate zone 3 councilor for the National SPS Council. Nice to meet you! I would say that it depends where you are going to college and the area you plan to attend. For example, at my college there are no girls majoring in physics. Most of them are chemistry, biology, or math majors. I'm not sure why the reason, perhaps it's one of the hardest majors to do and very time consuming. Also, there are scared to be one of few girls majoring in physics. Most small liberal arts colleges in NJ are the same, with the exception of research universities like Rutgers, which have more students than others. But, don't let that stop you from doing what you like. If you're interested in doing physics, there are many opportunities out there for you.



Re: Re: A first year grad students pet peevs - Oct 26 2009 12:46PM
Mary Avatar
Mary
27 Posts

Hey Erica,

I'm first year physics grad student, in a two year master's program. I'm the only girl in my year of 10 and in the year above me there is 1 out of 6. In my undergrad there were 2 girls in each class (out of 5-10 people in each year) for the last four years It really depends on where you go and what you do. It was very different for me going to a big university where I new mostly guys from a small liberal arts college where I knew more girls than guys. It did make me really depressed for the first couple of weeks, but I made sure I got involved in things outside the department to meet other girls. But the good thing about the guys here is they are all really supportive (as are guys at most places). They realized what was up with me and made sure that I was included in things they did and tried to make sure I was hanging out with them. Don't let the fact that you're a girl and could be the only one keep you out of something you love. People are trying to do things to combat it and it just makes it worse that people would consider not going into physics just because they would be the only minority. So don't worry and have fun with it! I know I do. :)



Re: Re: A first year grad students pet peevs - Nov 04 2009 11:22AM
Blay
50 Posts

Hey all

I wrote this post a year ago!  Now as a second year graduate student... maybe I can update!

Grad school (and undergrad for that matter) in physics is challenging. It's no surprise to anyone that the material is hard, but it can also be hard for some social reasons (i.e. gender and racial).  However, don't let it get to you.  I can easily say that 95% of my experiences in physics communities were OVERWHELMINGLY positive, and the other 5% were easy to shrug off as "well there are jerks in every walk of life."  And that's true... it's not like there is some magic field you can go into where everyone will see eye to eye about issues.  Physics as a major of study is amazing: you get to learn about how the universe works and feel really good that you are doing something incredibly meaningful.  It literally changes the way you precieve and interact with the world.  

My above post may have been pessimistic, but after 6 years of physics higher education I can say without a doubt that I am still lovin it!  However, I also think that everyone should be able to study physics and not feel put off by the lack of minorities and females.  If we want to fix this situation we need to talk about it - it's not an issue that we can sweep under the rug anymore.   I think SPS is leading the way in this...it's time for individual universities to step up to the plate.



Re: A first year grad students pet peevs - Jul 14 2010 5:32AM
lily ran
1 Posts

I like this forum but till now was only reading around and had no idea what I can do in order to contribute.