-2

How do professors successfully cope with negative stereotypes and stigma while pursuing their research careers?

Specifically, some issues that come to mind are:

  1. Women scientists who are perceived as less capable, with their research ideas dismissed as "not so good" while others use the same ideas and get complimented with, "that's an amazing idea!" (true story, from my friend, at a top STEM department)

  2. Asian male scientists who are perceived as unattractive and boring and have trouble balancing a life in science with a social life outside of academia.

  3. Older scientists who are perceived as slower and having less research potential than their younger peers, and always having to work extra hard to prove themselves, and always having to climb a steeper mountain than others, it seems.

Do professors have mentors / advisors, like students would have? Do they go for professional therapy? Read books, blogs? What are some coping mechanisms?

  • 3
    (1) You asked too many questions at once. Would you please ask one at a time? (2) Your question #2 is unclear to me, please clarify if you want to ask it. Thanks. – scaaahu Jul 13 '17 at 6:59
  • 1
    @scaaahu: I only see one central question and many possible ways that may answer this question being phrased as a question. If you are referring to the three list items, I understand those to be examples. – Wrzlprmft Jul 13 '17 at 11:20
  • @Wrzlprmft You mean the central question is the question title and all three questions are different ways to describe it? I beg to differ. At least women scientists (1) cannot be Asian males (2). Also, I think women scientists issue was asked before. I don't remember any question about Asian male. I prefer the OP only asks one question at a time. Say, if the OP asks about women scientists, we can determine if it's a dup, etc. – scaaahu Jul 13 '17 at 11:28
  • 1
    @scaaahu: The question is not about any of the listed issues, it’s about avoiding such stereotypes in general. The list items are not questions. – Wrzlprmft Jul 13 '17 at 11:32
  • 1
    @Wrzlprmft Quoting from the answer below, "I think the problems you mentioned are not unique to academia.", I am thinking either the question is too broad or it's a boat question. What I would do about this one is that I would give up voting right (may be too late now) and let the community decide because I am not too sure at this moment, in other words, I am not persistent about it. – scaaahu Jul 13 '17 at 11:41
5

1) That is individual, I know of really good female professors in math. I'd claim that such problems are less frequent in academia than they would be in a big company.
2) Scientists being viewed as boring and unattractive has nothing to do with them being Asian or not (and is not always true, there are people who find intelligence hot, unless you annoy them with it...). You can further have a social life outside of academia just fine, if you don't mention your job to often (then again, that is true for all jobs...).
3) Older scientists are more experienced and this makes up for lack of speed. A fresh researcher might take a few weeks to come up with a theory and formulate it, only to have an old professor tell him "well, that is obvious if you take result XX and apply it to the work of YY, why didn't you come and ask before putting so much work into it?"

All in all, I think the problems you mentioned are not unique to academia. In fact, I claim that they might be far worse in other areas and that academia is a relatively good place regarding such things.

About the question on how they deal with such issues, if they have them: Just like everybody else does, they are only human after all. Some of them might read, some of them might have a friend or therapist to talk to, maybe some of them like to play "killer-games" to get down after a really stressful day, who knows? But once again, that has nothing to do with academia as it is true everywhere.

Universities (just like big companies) sometimes also employ therapist. They are mostly visited by stressed out students, but also staff and professors can make an appointment if needed (but then again, I claim that they will need it less often than a top manager in a stressful job might need...).

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.