Hi everyone! I was wondering if you all could shed some light on my current problems at work which I feel are connected to my do a PhD. I started a part-time office job three months ago because my funds had run dry. I am being treated differently by my boss and colleagues, and I know it's because I'm doing a PhD. The women at work treat me with disdain. I'm the only woman working there who isn't married with kids, and they seem to despise me for this. If my boss asks me to work overtime, and I tell him that I have to work on my PhD, he doesn't take me seriously, whereas if one of the mothers says she can't because of her kids, he's complicit.
My boss always speaks to me with an elevated level of authority, almost as if he's saying 'You may be doing a PhD missy, but I'm still your boss'. I get a sense that he feels threatened by me (though he shouldn't!!!), and so he compensates by exerting his authority every minute I'm in that building. He never lets off. Basically, I know that I'm being treated differently because of the PhD, and it's really getting to me. Any advice on how to deal with this?
If you think it is entirely connected to your PhD, you can pretend you have quit, and that should eliminate the problems in a single stroke.
However, if its due to people approaching a mid life crisis, envying your youth, and you not being stuck in loveless marriages with screaming infants, you may need to find a new job.
Don't know what the answer is really but I definitley know what you're talking about - and I AM married with kids. But sometimes I totally dread being asked what I else I do. If I'm at a mum & toddler froup or some place with people I don't really know I avoid the topic because it makes some people really uncomfortable.
There may well be a bit of the envy that BHC describes as well. When I dropped out (was kicked out) of my first PhD I did alsorts of jobs and it did feel like I'd gone to an alien planet in some cases. But even other professionals can get tetchy - some people are just like that - and others are absolutely fine and treat me like a normal person.
Just play it down. Could you stand to take an interest in their kids etc (I never did when I was younger but believe me nothing warms a mother's heart more than talking about her kids - think of it as anthropological fieldwork....).
You cope by finishing your PhD and getting the hell out of there. I know where you are coming from as I had exactly the same problem, however chose to work full time and actually enter an IT graduate program from a very well known and respected global company. Rather than going out 'networking' I commuted 4 hours a day to and from home and wrote up my thesis... I got told by my manager that my loyalty should be to the company, I got a bad annual appraisal as I wasn't a 'team player' and was told in meetings ' you don't fit in.. you should look into being a lecturer' - oddly enough, until I mentioned I was doing a PhD... everything was fine.
Now I have one.. and guess what? I'm getting hassle to put it on my internal CV so they can charge me out for more, yet I get nothing in return, no promotion, no pay rise, no apology for being treated badly... so I've refused and am currently looking into other jobs. Sadly.. no matter how 'normal' you are.. people see 'PhD' and feel threatened and can make very snide comments about it. I would suggest you keep your head down, finish your PhD and leave....
I worked and distance-learned the first two years on my PhD, traveling to the UK 2-3 times a year. I was in full time professional work that was extremely demanding with insanely unpredictable hours. I ran into similar things with people wanting to socialise when I needed my precious free hours to study. I had also to negotiate the time off or away from work to go to the UK--in an environment where no one else had ever been overseas!
To say that I was a fish out of water in some respects was an understatement~!!!! Eventually I think I was seen as a sort of kooky eccentric that worked really hard and got great results, and was friendly in the time allowed. I NEVER talked about the PhD, if directly asked, I might mumble a few words, but that was it. If asked to do things on the time I needed for study, I would apologise and say I needed to study ( but never said PhD) and asked if another time, for lunch, or right after work for happy hour, etc, might work. Even if it did not work out, people felt I think that since I offered an alternative, at least it meant they were not just being rejected.
I did my best to be bright, active and chatty at all company meetings, to ask people about their summer holidays, their kids, their ingrown toe nails, whatever! In short, the PhD became for them, out of sight, out of mind. I let my supervisors know about the need to be in the UK, upfront, and told them what value added my work had from my study, and told them that of course their work had priority.
I worked out careful plans for covering all aspects of work when I was gone, and phoned in regularly to check on things when away, and gave them numerous ways I could be reached when gone. This seemed to take care of any problems or concerns they had about me being gone. I was just as reachable in the UK, as I would have been on holiday in the US. A few of the non-management level workers became really interested in what I was doing, and I was afraid to talk about it to them for fear of the things you describe ( I was in management but worked very closely with all levels of people internally).
And I was straight forward with those few folks, saying, I did not want people to think I had a big head about my studying or traveling, and was afraid to talk about it. They assured me of a genuine interest, and we talked about it. They got the picture that travel to the UK to distance learn was far from a holiday! They were not jealous, and it never caused a problem, but I kept the conversations low-key, private and that might have been the only time I talked about what I did.
In short--its a difficult situation to be in--with work and a PhD study! If you can concoct an out of sight, out of mind, scenario, so people forget you are doing it, all the better ( while you maintain the necessary boundaries so you do not get run over with extra work). If asked, let your supervisor know how much you like your job, how supportive your supervisor is, how flexible they are ( if true) about your study and how much you appreciate it.
I would suspect then people would simmer down. My sense is that confrontation about it would only make your situation worse, but a slightly over the top Pollyanna attitude will make everything fine!
two ways of handling any interpersonal issues......from our own end....or from looking at others end............ie a natural/easier way or a smarter/effective way. Saying you are not doing PhD anymore....naaaaa....i dont think so....but olivia and smildon have given you the best advice......people management skills are a sign of emotional and professional maturity... people often feel threatened when they perceive us to be different...as olivia all it would take is small genstures of inetrest....but of course there will be one or two individuals who will continue to be irrational despite your efforts ( :) i hope yr boss does not prove to be one of those)... Good luck.......
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