This excellent article in Lateralmag explores the same phenomena we have been noticing and exploring. It’s becoming increasingly clear through anecdotes and surfacing data that the problem is pervasive, and the problem is big. Dialogue about the issue must occur if something is to be done about this.
This is an article by Dacher Keltner, one of the founders of the Greater Good Science Center and one of the leading psychologists today who studies emotions such as empathy, compassion, and awe, and the effects they have on individuals and groups.
The article correlates rise to leadership with empathy. Though perhaps it should be taken into account that in our industry, leadership is determined by grants, research, and publications; this correlation between leaders and empathy might not exist in our culture. However, this quote from the article struck me as important:
“Team members led by empathetic managers — who listen, hear, and take in what others think and feel — work in more productive, innovative, and satisfying ways.”
If this also applies to scientists, it is in the best interest of a group, institute, and funding body to promote empathetic PIs and group leaders. But there exists what Dacher calls a power paradox, in which leaders find it harder to be empathetic and can even lose their ability to do so after they’ve gained power. It is interesting to wonder if this also applies in science, and explains some of the bad mentoring stories we’ve heard. We’d love to hear your opinions on the topic in the comment section below.
While not new, we thought we’d add this article to our collection so that it could be in our repository for others. The Guardian details the story of a Princeton professor who bravely published his CV on twitter with a list of his failures, including positions he didn’t get and papers that got rejected from top journals. We think it’s a refreshing view on the career path of an academic and a move towards breaking the myth that people who make it to the top do so only on a ladder of successes.
An interesting article came out in Science recently detailing the “mysteries,” and uncertainties of the Postdoc career track. The comments section of the article is also generating an interesting discussion as to how Postdocs view themselves and their future careers.
The Greater Good Science Center has recently published this article on risk factors for Burnout. What struck me most about the article is that in three out of the four risk factors, author Tchiki Davis mentions her experiences in graduate school. Does the culture at your institute perpetuate these risks? Does your own personality? If so, how do you prevent burnout in fields that promote or self-select for these types of behavior and personalities?