Tuesday, October 7, 2008

So, you want to date my academic daughter

Ever since my conversation about the case of the disappearing women, I have had one thought going through my head: I am a very lucky woman. To General Disarray's amusement, this thought is often followed with me telling him how lucky I am to have married him. (Right after the fateful conversation, I think I was telling him this every hour on the hour. I've pared that back a little since then - it was starting to impinge on my strong, independent woman image).

Not everybody can have such amazing luck, and I have begun watching my talented female graduate students and wondering...what if they end up with jackasses? Every time boys come sniffing around, I wonder....are you good enough for my students? I've contemplated a variety of ways to protect my students. My first idea was to padlock the lab and keep my students cloistered from the world. This had the advantage of also reducing a variety of distractions and focusing them on their work. Unfortunately, the lab does not have a toilet and the firemarshal told me it was a safety hazard (General Disarray also may have mentioned something about 'kidnapping'...I figured that meant he would also not be supportive of the chastity belt idea). So, ixnay on the Cloister of the Pure and Promising Sisters of Ecology.

I also contemplated installing Homeland Security's facial recognition software that would discern between male and female faces and trigger a Tazer whenever any male attempted to enter the lab.


Figure 1. New motto of the Tam Lab

This has the advantage of allowing my students to go to the restroom. Unfortunately, there are men in the lab... I suspect I may lose a few male students this way. I also suspect that General Disarray would have a few stern words if he  got Tazed every time he walked through the door.

I've also thought about hanging out in the lab throwing knives at the walls - this would give my students the "crazy dad" protection (though in this case it's the crazy academic mom). Unfortunately, weapons are frowned upon on college campuses and flinging plastic knives at walls doesn't have the same effect.  Besides, the really nice building maintenance man told me bad things might start happening to my office if I put holes in his walls.


Figure 2. River Tam action figure with the bodies of her student's suitors at her feet.

So, here I am, completely stymied about how to protect my students and stay out of jail. I guess I'll just have to treat them like they're adults and hope everything turns out okay. In the meantime, I'm practicing a really mean evil eye....


Figure 3. River Tam giving the untazed, undeadified suitors the evil eye.


Anonymous said...

I had a floozie hovering around my undergrad researcher a few years ago... she would buzz him INCESSANTLY, call the lab phone when he didn't pick up his cell, and stop by ALL. THE. TIME. I would walk in the lab to find her standing behind him at the desk rubbing his neck while he was pipetting! I threw down the gauntlet, not just about leaving my undergrad alone during HIS work hours, but she was scantily dressed and terribly disruptive to everyone else. She ignored me AND started sneaking around the lab at night with him when I wasn't there. The dumb boy and I had a sit down chat where he proceeded to tell me that she's preggo and hormonal and doesn't like me very much - "please don't cause me problems" he said. He was 20, she was 21. Yeah, ok.
Happy ending... no. They both dropped out of school. They had a shotgun wedding. He already wants a divorce because she's too needy and stifling. no shit Sherlock.
Oh yeah, and he emails me monthly for recommendation letters for whacko jobs (not science related AT ALL). He's working for a moving company. She's on unemployment.
I wish I could have locked his ass up!

Isis the Scientist said...

Hmmm, River...the structure of this blog post feels strangely familiar.

However, blog structure aside, do you think this is something unique to female academics, that we worry about our science children? I know as a graduate student my male mentor was interested in my personal life, but I don't think he was losing any sleep or blogging about it.

River Tam said...

Isis, as one of your other worshipers already noted, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Your integration of pictures if frankly brilliant. However, I don't think you'll have to worry about my poor imitation for a while. I caught an eyeful searching "nuns", "chastity belt", and even "evil eye". It'll be a little while before I have the courage to venture back to google images!

Interesting question about female academics worrying more about their academic children. I honestly don't know. I've never had that conversation with any of my male or even female colleagues. I know my advisor often thought a lot about his academic children, but he focused on what he could do for them professionally. If he did worry about our significant others, he never mentioned it (though his wife did tell me once in no uncertain terms that I was too good for one of my boyfriends). Which frankly is all any of us can really do. We can't influence who they are going to marry (arranged marriages!! Why didn't I think of that for my post!!) but we can give them the best foundation we can, make sure they are as successful and productive as possible when they leave the nest, and hope for the best.

Nat Blair said...

Now, my mental image of River Tam (is it River? Is is Tam?) is forever and inextricably one where she is wielding sword and battle axe. (Must...resist...geek...RPG...references...GACK)

I caught an eyeful searching "nuns", "chastity belt", and even "evil eye". It'll be a little while before I have the courage to venture back to google images!

Strict filtering on, strict filtering on!

Though I must admit that of all the advisors I've had, all 5 men, none of them ever cared one whit about my love life. *sniff*

Even though the not-yet-Dr.-Blair (me) met the not-yet-First-to-be-awarded-Dr.-Blair in one of their labs!

Of course we didn't start dating until she left the lab. Really. Intralab romance is like all yucky and stuff.

River Tam said...

Nat - some might argue the axe wielding image is the correct image to have!

anon - thanks for the reminder that it's not just women who can have their professional aspirations derailed by a bad dating choice!

Nat Blair said...

Hmm, as an ecologist I always had you pegged as a druid. Must be 3rd edition type.

River Tam said...

LOL. I assume the 3rd edition is a D&D reference? I'm more of an online RPG type of girl....

(is it River? Is is Tam?)

Oh, and I finally understood what you were asking. You can call me River. You can call me Tam. I stole the name from a fictional character. You can also call me Professor Chaos, if you prefer. I'll answer to any and all of the above.

Nat Blair said...

Yeah, if I didn't have a marriage, children, a mortgage, and hopes to have a decent job some day, I'd totally be way more into online gaming. I an addictive personality when it comes to things like that.

For sake of laziness and conserving typing, I'll go with Tam.

EcoGeoFemme said...

Ecogeoman and I are in the same department and we had a very public courtship (well, I guess technically we're still courting since we're not married but we live together and all). My advisor loves him and takes every opportunity to mentor me about our dual-career future. I appreciate that, but it's weird that I suspect my advisor likes EGM better than me. It's like thinking your parent loves your sister better.

River Tam said...

EGF - Given your description, if I was your advisor, that interaction would be explained by 1) I was relieved that you haven't ended up with someone who would - through fair means or foul - run you off the scientific rails and b) I knew how difficult it can be for academic couples and you are too good of a scientist to risk getting lost in the cracks for lack of preparation.

Your advisor would not spend that much time voluntarily advising you about dual careers if he wasn't impressed with your potential! (Honestly, we're just too busy!)

drdrA said...

I totally do this with my single kids aaahem ...students. In the form of giving them the third degree about the suitor of the day... same as I do with my 6 year old... Little A- mom, he runs fast and he has red hair... me- yes little A... but does he have a JOB??

BikeMonkey said...

You wouldn't let your academic daughters date a physicist would you?

River Tam said...

@bikemonkey - are you proposing to arrange a marriage between one of my students and some nice physicist, or should I add "is he a physicist?" to my list of "top ten signs your boyfriend will ruin your career in science"?

EcoGeoFemme said...

Thanks for the positive respone. I hope he thinks I'm that good!

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