I keep hearing people say this over and over and I am never sure how to respond to this. I usually ask if people who say this have data to support their statements, which they usually don't. But in yesterday's diversity journal club on twitter, the following paper was brought into the discussion: "What's the purpose of a scientific career?" in which Kenneth Gibbs makes the point that women and underrepresented minorities tend to choose their career based on slightly different motives:
This and other work shows that women and URM scientists on average “choose differently.” Their choices are made “outside of ability, outside of competence”—but in keeping with expressed desires to pursue social justice, community involvement, and altruism, he says. In contrast, men from well-represented groups more often seek academic research careers that incorporate the value of “scientific freedom, the ability to research what you want on your own terms.”
For scientists with strong social concerns, scientific and social motivations are “intertwined,” Gibbs says.
This really resonates with me, because when people ask if I'm happy in my new job, I usually answer that what makes me most happy at the moment is that it is less personal. My job now is not about my ideas and my papers and my rejections anymore. It is about what I contribute to the team, and in the end: what we as a team make for the people that buy the things that our company makes. And while it makes me a little sad that the victories are not mine alone anymore, it makes me very happy and relieved that the rejections are not mine alone either. And maybe this feels different when you are the PI of a lab and you have a team of your own, but the difference between being a lonely post-doc in a competitive environment versus a team player feels like a huge difference to me.