Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

Time For Activism

I’ve never been huge into being an activist. Sure, I’ve always had opinions on stuff, but I was never one to get too bothered by politics and the like. Not enough to do anything, anyway.
But something has changed in the last few years, and especially in the last few months. I don’t know if it has something to do with getting older, and I tend to care more about the world around me, or if everything is just getting worse out there. Whatever it is, I’ve changed my tune.
It started during my PhD when I began to talk to more and more women in the sciences, and started reading science blogs. I began to find a disturbing trend: this sexism thing people were talking about not only was rampant, but it was right in front of me. I’m not sure why I didn’t see it before – I would always shrug it off as “just a joke” or it didn’t even occur to me that it was sexist. I was one of those women who would chastise others for being “too sensitive” or think they must be making it up. But, reading other peoples stories, it opened my eyes, and I started to “get it”. Not only did I start noticing comments or behavior but, as I looked back on my life, I remembered other instances of sexism. It was far more common – and real – than I thought.
That’s what started it – I began to look at the world differently. I was able to see things from other vantage points. Even if something didn’t directly relate to me, I had empathy for the people it did affect. I stopped laughing at off-color jokes (before I would so I didn’t seem “rude” – really??), and I began to quietly call people out if they made inappropriate comments.
Now, when I find things I hold near and dear to my heart are attacked (such as help for teen-mothers being taken away, the complete lack of respect for basic science research by the Canadian government, or the fact that LGBT rights is even an issue in the US) I have this overwhelming desire to DO something. To speak up. To fight. 
Here’s my problem: I don’t know how to make time for it. I get overwhelmed with the number of injustices in the world that I want to help fix. Even if I just focus on one thing, I don’t know where to start. 
I know there are a lot of you out there who are passionate about your causes. How do you make the time? What kinds of things do you do? Where should I start? Is doing something small ever worth it?

Well, here’s a start: for those of you in Canada who are fed up with the Federal Government (recent budget cuts, Bill C-38, etc.), there will be an online protest on June 4th where websites all across Canada will be going dark. Get more information on the Black Out Speak Out website. My post on June 4th will be a banner from that site.


Why wasn’t I told that?

I had a look at my earnings statement for this month – because I get paid from multiple sources, I’ve learned to check it ahead of time in case something is messed up. So, I wasn’t surprised when I saw there was something missing: my pay from one of my outreach programs.

Now, I’ve had this issue before. Due to problems with the department and grad studies, the woman who takes care of my salary for that job has to put in my hours manually each month. Once in a while she misses it, and she either gets a cheque cut for me, or it just ends up on my next paycheque.

So, I figured it was the same deal, and just let her know what was going on. I was surprised by the response: all “new” positions have to now be approved by the provost. First of all, my position is not new – I’ve been doing it for 4 years (and there were others before me). Second, why is she just telling me this now? I have a feeling that this wouldn’t have even surfaced if I didn’t ask her about my pay!

This isn’t the first time that I’ve caught an issue like this – I’ve had problems with my department paying me less than they should pretty much every semester. Why is it that I have to make sure I get paid the right amount? You’d think with 100s of faculty/staff, they’d know how to pay people properly. I swear, they try to lowball people and just hope no one catches it 😛

So, now my paycheque for this month is super low and I don’t know if I’m actually going to get paid for this job anymore (and even if I am…when is it going to be approved?). Damn this university really sucks ass about things like this.

News and Notes

It seems there are a lot of little things I want to write about, so point form it is!

  • I finished the first draft of the intro chapter! I read it last night, and I can certainly tell that I wrote the first part two months ago. That’s okay though – I have the rest of the week to edit it before I give it to my supervisor.
  • The bulk content (i.e., not including title page, abstract, apendices, etc.) of my thesis is sitting at 90 pages right now. That’s short. I do plan on adding to the intro chapter, will add a few more figures to my second chapter, and I still have the conclusions/future work chapter to write. Hopefully that will add about 20 pages. Is there such a thing as a thesis that is too short?

    The problem is the two papers I wrote are pretty short – there was a lot of work involved, but it kind of looks like there wasn’t based on the length. Maybe I’ll read the science chapters and see if I can add more info or images to make it more complete.

  • One of the staff members in the department lost their job this week. I guess the university is really being serious about cutting a certain percentage of their budget by getting rid of people. It’s a sad thing.
  • I already told you that my science abstract was accepted for a talk. Well, I also got word that my outreach abstract was also accepted for a poster (which I asked for because then it can be used at other conferences). That adds two more things I need to do before the end of July!
  • Next week I start a teaching workshop. It’s only a couple afternoons a week for 2.5 weeks, so not a huge time commitment. Hopefully it won’t require too much reading or anything, otherwise I might have to drop it if it starts to interfer with my thesis progress.
  • DH submitted his first real job applicaiton this week!
  • Just one more week of the exercise study left! I started off working out at a mininum of 130 bpm (and thought that was hard) and now I consistantly work out at 150 bpm or more! So, my cardio has definitely imporved over the last 7 weeks!
  • I miss reading my books – I still have a huge stack of them, but unfortunately I think that hobby will have to be put on hold for at least the next month.


There is a fantastic post over at Women in Astronomy about how the current economic turmoil is affecting scientists – graduate student and post-doc positions in particular. Check it out.

They also give a link to this article about saying ‘no’ in the workplace – very powerful and well worth the read.

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