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137 votes

What is the purpose of women-only meetings, panels, conferences, etc. in academia?

I actually agree with you completely. I think that the women only conference concept is very well intentioned but in practice kind of terrible. I once went to an all girl hackathon and spent 2 1/2 ...
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88 votes

How can I deal with students that are too sensitive when they are wrong? Particularly when they answer simple questions incorrectly during class?

Like others here have indicated, you can reframe the questions to avoid this, but there's another aspect to consider. It can be really hard to foster an environment where people aren't afraid to speak ...
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  • 1,454
79 votes
Accepted

Why are exercises in US university classes graded?

Exercises are graded because if they were not graded, many students would not do them. You are quite correct however in perceiving that this is bad. It creates an unhealthy confusion between formative ...
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  • 169k
78 votes

Is it immoral to advise PhD students in non-industry-relevant topics in middle-lower ranked universities?

While the question in the title is a good one, your post also makes some assumptions, in some cases dubious, which are really worth investigating first: But some research fields have little to no ...
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  • 8,677
72 votes
Accepted

Do I have an "anti-research" personality?

Having a broad set of interests and knowledge is fine, and can lead to some 'outside of the box' solutions. Yes, you will find periods where anything else is more interesting than your PhD work, ...
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  • 806
55 votes

Is there deliberate gender preferential treatment in hiring or admission in STEM fields?

It's rather subtle trying to decide what counts as gender preferential treatment. For example, suppose the hiring committee decides to interview Bob, Carl, and Dave. As a sanity check, someone goes ...
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53 votes
Accepted

Classroom participation – is there a gender issue?

One part of the difference is not that women are different in their willingness to ask questions, but anyone visibly different is. I was an undergrad in a class of 44. There were 4 women: two of one ...
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  • 5,660
46 votes

What is the purpose of women-only meetings, panels, conferences, etc. in academia?

My answer is focused on the sessions that usually occur within a larger conference. The purpose of a successful session is to leave the attendees energized and feeling more confident so that they can ...
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  • 1,759
42 votes

What is the purpose of women-only meetings, panels, conferences, etc. in academia?

The vision of the Association for Women in Science focuses on compensation, advancement, discrimination and respect. These are real problems for women in academia. To an extent, conferences for women ...
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  • 103k
39 votes

Is it a good practice for teaching assistants to sit in the lectures?

I have seen TAs do this, but generally don't ask my own TAs to do it. As you say, it's a (very) time-consuming way to solve the coordination problem. I personally prefer to just sit with the TAs for a ...
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  • 126k
39 votes

I am a PhD candidate and I have been offered an internship that I want to take. My advisor objects. Should I take it anyway?

Make a decision. Do you want a PhD or not. If you do, then make that the priority. Such opportunities as the internship will probably come along later. The doctorate would probably be harder to ...
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  • 263k
38 votes
Accepted

Is there deliberate gender preferential treatment in hiring or admission in STEM fields?

In Germany, women are in some instances preferred over men for professor positions, to the point of excluding male applicants at all. There are scholarships and other forms of funding specifically (...
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  • 1,757
37 votes
Accepted

How common are self-funded PhDs in the STEM fields in U.S. universities?

From the Survey of Earned Doctorates, a large-scale survey of students who earn doctoral degrees from U.S. institutions, In the life sciences, 9% report "own resources" as primary source of support. ...
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  • 107k
36 votes

What should I do if I hate engineering, but my parents want me to become an engineer?

I hate engineering (too practical, too far from physics) This in an unfortunately common misconception, which can bring nonsense answers like this one on Meta Physics SE, where it is said: If I ...
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  • 52.4k
35 votes

How can I deal with students that are too sensitive when they are wrong? Particularly when they answer simple questions incorrectly during class?

You are asking them to answer a question on the spot. They get flustered, say something stupid, and you don't respond in a very sympathetic way. Then they are upset. Yes, you are right, log(a*b) is ...
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  • 5,878
34 votes

How can I deal with students that are too sensitive when they are wrong? Particularly when they answer simple questions incorrectly during class?

Ask yes or no questions. Then ask why. Instead of asking what shape a drawing is, ask the students if it’s a square. Then ask why it’s a square. This lets students know what the right answer is. If ...
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  • 7,370
29 votes
Accepted

How to foster gender diversity as an organizer

Aimed at a different point in the pipeline, you can try to make it more possible for speakers to accept your invitation. One step that can make a huge difference for certain people (in many cases, ...
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  • 4,957
29 votes

Is it practically possible to rise to the highest ranks of academia in STEM in the US system after finishing a PhD at 34?

Your chances of "rising to the highest ranks" of academia are small. But no different from anyone else, no matter their age at completion of a doctorate. The bar is the difficulty of doing ...
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  • 263k
28 votes

Can it be disadvantageous to actively publish in completely different fields?

I've served as a referee on grant proposals to large public-sector research funding bodies on a couple of occasions. If a PI had demonstrated the ability to achieve peer-reviewed publications in ...
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27 votes

Do I have an "anti-research" personality?

Let me preface my answer by challenging an unwritten assumption of yours: that you have a fixed "personality" which is hampering your potential as a researcher. This simply is false. Nobody is born a ...
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23 votes

What is the purpose of women-only meetings, panels, conferences, etc. in academia?

[Warning: Male speaking] If enough people feel the need for such a conference, then there is a need. Since these conferences keep getting held, clearly there is a need for them. Now, in an ideal ...
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  • 1,633
21 votes

Why are exercises in US university classes graded?

So why is it that homework is often graded in US universities? Or is it not? I simply often get the impression that it is, but don't know for sure. Dan Romik's answer Exercises are graded because if ...
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20 votes
Accepted

Leaving PhD program to apply for industry job - better to apply while still officially enrolled?

Being unemployed can significantly decrease your likelihood of successfully landing a job. The preceeding link is one of many stories covering that angle. The best graph describing how bad it is comes ...
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  • 47.8k
20 votes

Is it common/ ethically acceptable for PhD advisors to propose and supervise topics on which they lack basic knowledge?

I can't really judge whether the OP's treatment was appropriate or not, but there are situations in which it would be and, in those situations the answer to whether this is "acceptable" ...
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  • 263k
20 votes

Is it immoral to advise PhD students in non-industry-relevant topics in middle-lower ranked universities?

A PhD is about learning to do research without supervision. It is not only about mastering a particular niche topic. Indeed, even the students that do become professors are likely to eventually move ...
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  • 51.9k
19 votes

Is it immoral to advise PhD students in non-industry-relevant topics in middle-lower ranked universities?

It's only immoral if you mislead them about their career opportunities post-graduation. You should help the student make an informed decision to do a PhD, and if they know what they're going into but ...
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  • 103k
18 votes
Accepted

Is it a good practice for teaching assistants to sit in the lectures?

I have been a TA myself, and I can highly recommend doing that. I had been facing the same problem as you (In my case, I attended the same course before joining it as a TA, but it was restructured in ...
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  • 326
18 votes

Will I be accepted into another PhD program if I leave my current group in Europe in which I don't fit in?

Context: I have had candidates in similar situations apply to positions I offered in the past. It's certainly possible - you are not a slave to your current group, and there is no law that says that ...
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  • 126k
18 votes

Is it ill-advised to make a cover for your thesis in STEM?

It does not matter. It used to be that theses were printed on paper. In those days, they had standard covers so they would all look the same when placed on a shelf in the library. Today nobody ...
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18 votes

Why are exercises in US university classes graded?

Dan Romik's answer that if homework wasn't graded, many students wouldn't do it is at least partly correct (although I can't help wondering whether overall comprehension would increase if homework ...
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