Handling those who dont understand

posted
03-Aug-10, 05:00
by pandora
Avatar for pandora
posted about 10 years ago
Hi guys... I am in my second yr of full-time PhD and a full time mum to a toddler. Although balancing the two can be challenging, this is a choice I have made for myself and it is not my intention to prove to the world that I am a wonder-mom or anything of the kind. I dont expect people to salute me for doing a phd either. But I just dont know how to deal with those losers who say "what?? all this hard work and you wont even be a real doctor"... urrrggghhh.. Any ideas on handling such comments well will be appreciated.
posted
03-Aug-10, 07:53
Avatar for Hypothesis
posted about 10 years ago
You could always gently point out that medical doctors attend university for three years to get the science/art behind it then practice for two more just to get registered (and in my experience still lack the basics) - thus they only have a Bachelors degree and their title of "doctor" is in fact purely honorary. You sweated blood to do new research to gain a "proper" doctorate and so a little respect for that sacrifice would not go amiss?

Failing that, go for sarcasm: just sigh melodramatically and say: "Whatever you say dear..."
posted
03-Aug-10, 08:31
edited about 8 seconds later
by Corinne
Avatar for Corinne
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Pandora, this can be really tricky. I learnt at my own expences that motherhood is much more competitive than a PhD. You come across a number of mothers who didn't build up anything for themselves and although they claim that they are not judgemental, they criticise anyone who send toddlers to nursery, don't spend the whole day baking cakes, etc. Actually, one of them thought that doing a PhD was my "free-time" (that is = waste of time!).
I learnt to be a bit more selective. There is nothing wrong in spending your day baking cakes and going to mothers & toddlers coffee mornings, but equally there is nothing wrong in pursuing your own goals, and one does not necessarily exclude the other anyway. I think that this is a particularly delicate time, and I found out that, as I said, there is a lot of pressure on mothers by other mothers, and a lot of jealousy too. Be proud of yourself and don't worry too much about what other people say.
;-)
posted
03-Aug-10, 10:29
Avatar for Swetchha
posted about 10 years ago
Hi, I agree with you all. I too have come across mothers (especially housewives) complaining that they don't have enough time in life. They are very busy with kid/s. Sometimes I feel how free I am that I have do PhD in my free time, having a small kid with me. No complain to anyone as this is what I chose for myself. Regarding comparison to medical doctorate, I agree it's really makes us feel bad sometimes.
posted
03-Aug-10, 10:44
by sneaks
Avatar for sneaks
posted about 10 years ago
======= Date Modified 03 Aug 2010 12:12:17 =======
How silly. I'm not sure I can stand people who bake all day every day, once in a while perhaps, but it surely is just trying to ease a sense of unfulfillment?

I'd just point out that your kid (if he/she's still young) is more likely to get into the better schools with a Dr. for a parent ;-) and then tell them your PhD is on looking at food and then say that what they're feeding their kid is really bad for them and they should be feeding them pumkin seeds on an hourly basis (or something similar) - I've seen how scary the 'yummy mummy' organic food competition can get

e.g. "my daughter is ONLY fed wild rice and organic beans grown on the hills of mount fuji, and there's no airmiles because our cleaner cycles them all the way from japan, and he's also our best friend" (sprout)
posted
03-Aug-10, 10:59
edited about 12 seconds later
Avatar for Keenbean
posted about 10 years ago
It is irritating when people see a PhD as being 'inferior' to a medical degree in some way- they are entirely different things, but most people don't really understand what a PhD is. And it takes longer to get to the end of your PhD (for most people 3-4 years undergrad, possibly a masters, and then another 3-4 years doing a PhD) that it does to get a medical degree given that most medical degrees only last 5 years. I think the other thing that occurs to me is that I have spent about 7 years basically studying the brain- how on earth do they get through the whole body in 5 years?!! I guess they are training and specialising for years after they get their degree though. Anyway, I wouldn't let it worry you- they're either a bit ignorant or maybe even a bit jealous because you are managing to balance a PhD and a child! Best, KB
posted
03-Aug-10, 12:00
by 4Matt
Avatar for 4Matt
posted about 10 years ago
The bit about "proper doctor"/medical doctor terminology hit a raw nerve with me - I already think that basic/lab-based scientists get a pretty raw deal, and it doesn't help when I speak to friends who are medics, and think that you can do a PhD in three years by getting in to work at 11 and leaving at 3. I suppose the public perception is that clinicians do everything, and scientists are just weirdos who spend their lives locked away in a lab. But yes, the term "doctor" is purely honorary for medics, unless they also have PhDs, and they should be reminded of this!
posted
03-Aug-10, 12:33
Avatar for Keep_Calm
posted about 10 years ago
I hate to say it, but you will probably encounter this kind of attitude a lot during your PhD, whether you’re a mother or not. PhD’s are massively misunderstood and undervalued in this country, currently. How to change people’s attitudes- Who knows? Maybe there’s a PhD topic in there ; )
As an anecdotal aside, last night I watched Mastermind and then University Challenge with my flatmate. He is incapable of watching UC without making some disparaging comments about how the team members must have no life and no friends and what’s the point in knowing all this ‘useless’ stuff. Yet he is enthralled by the Mastermind contestants and thinks they’re great. He admitted that he is probably biased against the UC contestants purely because they’re students whereas the Mastermind contestants usually have ‘proper jobs’. At one point I would have been fuming...For better or worse, I don’t really care now. I enjoy what I do and I hope to contribute to a body of knowledge and teach my students some interesting things. Aside from that, you can’t please everyone
posted
03-Aug-10, 12:37
edited about 14 seconds later
Avatar for Walminskipeasucker
posted about 10 years ago
We do have a bit of a problem when it comes to PR, I agree. I honestly think that no-one can understand what a PhD is like unless they've done one for themselves. And as for this 'you're no a proper doctor' crap - yeah, whatever. I'm an academic who happens to have a degree (will have anyway) that is higher up the tree of qualifications than the double-barrel Bachelors and sometimes MD (watered down PhD with a clinical emphasis) that a medical practitioner has.
When I declare my crappy hilltop town an independent state and become it's Prime Minister (sorry, I've been working really hard lately and am becoming delusional), I'm going to start a public education campaign and make sure that everyone knows that there are different types of doctors: medical, professional and academic. Dissenting or unruly members of my state will be sent to my prison - a PhD school - and be forced to do one.
posted
03-Aug-10, 12:38
by sneaks
Avatar for sneaks
posted about 10 years ago
hmm I always get the impression that UC contestants are just enrolled on degrees to be on the team. So they're like professors or something enrolled on ANOTHER undergrad degree.

I usually only get the arts questions right - and I'm doing a PhD in psychology :-(
posted
03-Aug-10, 14:21
edited about 22 seconds later
Avatar for stressed
posted about 10 years ago
I tend to treat them with the contempt they deserve, or completely confuse them by saying, no, I'm going to be the 'real' Dr, an MD's title is purely honourary, they aren't actually Drs in the true sense - gets them every time :-) it does drive me nuts too though, if one more person says it to me with that sideways tilt of the head and condescending smile I'm very likely to be making a special appearance on the 6pm news!
posted
03-Aug-10, 19:40
by peljam
Avatar for peljam
posted about 10 years ago
Quote From stressed:

I tend to treat them with the contempt they deserve, or completely confuse them by saying, no, I'm going to be the 'real' Dr, an MD's title is purely honourary, they aren't actually Drs in the true sense - gets them every time :-)  it does drive me nuts too though, if one more person says it to me with that sideways tilt of the head and condescending smile I'm very likely to be making a special appearance on the 6pm news!


This ^

As far as I'm aware medics don't submit an original thesis, research or otherwise. I'm sure it's hard. I know some medics and they definitely work hard but it's ultimately a title. They're not the 'proper' doctors in this equation.

My gran rings from time to time to see how things are going but she's one of those who can't work out the difference between the two and doesn't seem to consider a phd to be a proper doctor. Her eldest son, my uncle, is a GP and it's all I can do to point out that despite his training he's no more a real doctor than a mechanic is.

It's a massively misunderstood difference but one I think is fostered a lot by traditional medicine. I might get some flack here :-) Like I've said I think medics do work hard but there seems to be a vested interested in 'owning' the title and traditional respect and attitudes that have gone along with it. Look at the resistance to Nurse practitioners, and now physician assistants. They've encroached onto the medics turf, shown that there are many areas of medicine that can be done and done well without the title, and they've been fought pretty much every step of the way. {Disclaimer: That's not to say there's some huge conspiracy, or that all medics are against nurses and PA's!}

I'm with Keenbean as well. I know a fair bit about the brain and I know a lot of fellow PhDers who do nothing but research it. I know a great deal about biology, psychophysics etc so I find it a bit offensive when people think I wouldn't know anything about the area because I'm not a 'real' doctor.

All I can think do to is this; Ignore those who's don't matter to you, and educate those who do.

posted
03-Aug-10, 19:52
edited about 13 seconds later
by 4Matt
Avatar for 4Matt
posted about 10 years ago
The mechanic analogy is one of my favourites. In terms of the difference between clinicians and scientists, scientists are the car designers - the experts in each part of the the car, what it does, how it works, why the design is better than alternatives, and so on.

The clinician in the mechanic who changes the oil and occasionally fixes the tracking...
posted
03-Aug-10, 19:54
by 4Matt
Avatar for 4Matt
posted about 10 years ago
The mechanic analogy is one of my favourites. In terms of the difference between clinicians and scientists, scientists are the car designers - the experts in each part of the the car, what it does, how it works, why the design is better than alternatives, and so on.

The clinician in the mechanic who changes the oil and occasionally fixes the tracking...
posted
03-Aug-10, 20:25
Avatar for mothlene
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Pandora.

I empathise. Completely. I've just submitted (yesterday) and my son is 4. I started the PhD when he was 1 - insane, but my choice. Others who've posted replies are right - you'll get these ridiculous comments whether you've got a child or not. But I understand how much tougher it is when you have a child.

I went to quite a bit of research training and would laugh when other students would say 'ohhh, I'm so tired, I don't think I can do any work for the next couple of days' or other such remarks. I never told anyone I had a child, but would think...'try getting up at 6am every day and looking after a baby all day, then once 7.30pm comes around, put in 6 hours PhD work, then see how 'tired' you are' Nobody, but nobody could ever understand the PhD/ child juggle unless they've been through it.

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