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Katie Wedemeyer-Strombel @krwedemeyer
, 13 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Something I'd like to clear up: there is a difference between hard work, intellectual challenges, and a toxic/hostile work environment.
Usually, whenever I talk about toxic grad school/academic environments I get told I'm complaining, I don't want to work hard, and that PhD should be challenging. Yes, it should be challenging - but it should not be traumatizing. There is a difference.
Challenging is trying to find funding, is working hard to understand a concept in a course or improve on implementing a method. It is planning a remote field season, coordinating international collaborators, learning how to write efficient academic prose.
Toxic/traumatizing is being told you are awful, being bullied by those in power, being yelled at & told bc you're a student you can be talked to whenever & however those in power want & you need to "pull up your big girl panties and deal with it" [all things I have been told]
Challenging is staying up late because you are determined and inspired to work through a problem. It is breakthroughs and set backs, and getting funded and getting rejected. It is revise and resubmit, or resubmit elsewhere.
Toxic is panic attacks that keep you up all night, it is dreading going into meetings with supervisors, it is being yelled out for doing things that make you happy, it is being yelled at for everything you do, it is always being told you're not enough.
Challenging is mulling over a problem, is trying different ways to approach it. It is asking for help when you need it. It can be long hours, and stress. But a good, challenging environment also promotes self care, and knows you're your best when you are healthy & a whole person.
Toxic is being told "seeing family is a childish excuse for a vacation", even if it's been 2 yrs since you've seen them. It's being told no matter what you do, you don't deserve to take care of yourself or spend time with those you love. It is requires you to only be your work.
I don't shy away from challenging work. I enjoy it and I am damn good at it. I do loudly dismiss toxic environments, because being trapped in one engulfed me & it took me years to undo the damage.
Grad students/academics (no one) should not have to work & live in toxic environments. You don't get an * on your degree because you survived a shitty environment. Grad students: if you're in a toxic environment - you are not stuck, you can make a change: katiewedemeyer.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/gra…
Find an adviser that creates and promotes a healthy, challenging, environment. One that pushes you, but knows when you need a break. One that sees you as a whole person, that emphasizes your health above your research. Advisers like this do exist - & they make all the difference.
And if you're in a position of power to help create positive, challenging, environments - please do so. And call out your colleagues that create toxic environments - do not put that onus on the students.
And let's support each other through this. Grad students / academics - if you are struggling, you are not alone. Reach out. You can do this, and also if you don't want to - you don't have to do this. Do what is best for you, that is the most important consideration.
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