Archive for: January, 2019

On being allies

Jan 16 2019 Published by under diversity

Science writer Ed Yong wrote an article for the Atlantic about new research on trans identity in childhood. I personally think it is well written and uses inclusive and respectful language.

However, in the response to it, I also read this tweet of a trans woman who expresses her annoyance with people who love this article but have been much less respectful before.

I remember a similar sentiment after the "Everything you know about obesity is wrong" article that appeared late last year: why do people only start listening when men who do not belong to the group they write about (whether it is trans people or fat people) say something that the group themselves has said before? It makes me wonder: because on the one hand we want people who hold the majority of power (i.e. men) to be allies for minority groups, but at the same time we don't want the scenario that only when men speak out, we believe the minority group. So how do we act as allies in such a society? I don't have a clear answer but I think it starts with listening and amplifying voices of minority groups. Is there a way to do it right, or is it 2 steps forward, 1 step back into a more inclusive society?

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2019 will be the year of personal branding

The thing that shocked me most as a recovering academic is that in academia I had a very clear goal that I was working towards, namely becoming a university professor with my own lab doing my own research. When I left academia, I lost that laser sharp focus on the goal entirely. In the beginning that wasn't so much a problem because I seriously enjoyed learning new things and understanding how my new environment worked. However, after a while some days started to feel like I was just moving things around without any clear goal in mind. I would do the work just to please the people around me (and because I get paid for doing it of course). It became more and more clear that I needed to replace the academic goal with some other goal, although perhaps it does not need to be as rigid and laser sharp as that one.

As I wrote at the end of December, 2018 was the year of contemplation and getting a better idea of what I want. I've worked on listing the things I like and dislike doing, but I feel like I need to do more work in crafting that vision of where I see myself and what I want to do. That's why I've made the theme for 2019 "personal branding".

I don't particularly like those words, because they sound a little like you're only showing the shiny, happy version of yourself, but to me they actually mean the opposite: to figure out your authentic self and feel strong enough to bring that to work. One aspect of that is that I tend to pile on as many projects as I possibly can, but I lack focus. Over the break I realized that this might just be because I don't want to fail and doing many things is both an excuse to not to everything 100% but also is a way to spread my changes that at least some of the projects will work out fine. I need to stop doing that and figure out what it is that I want to be known for and then focus on doing just that and embracing the larger chance of failing.

Perhaps this is the work of a lifetime, but no better day to start than today, right?! Happy 2019 and please share your theme in the comments, if you have one!

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