Visiting (very young) scholars

Jul 30 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

Jannelle, a late-teenage (college, I think) person is visiting one of my departmental colleagues. My colleague has known and worked with Jannelle's mom for a while - they've collaborated sporadically over the last ten years. I know her parents a bit, respect their work greatly, but they are not collaborators. Jannelle wants to be a biologist, and is here for a couple of weeks to see What Biologists (other than her mom) Do. She's been hanging with my lab for a day or so.

Jannelle seems bright and interested. But damn, she's got a manner that just fucking rubs me the wrong way. I've been trying to figure out what it is, so that I can decide if I'm being a jackass, or this is really an issue. I doubt I will do anything different, since I'll be polite and open no matter what.

I like uppity. I like sassy. I like being argued with. But I don't like being interrupted. I don't like people just walking into my office and starting to interrogate me. Would I use the word interrogate if, before asking the exact same questions, she had said "excuse me, do you have time to talk?". Not at all sure about that one.

Honest admission: if she had been a he, I would have been more irritated. I try to be open to everyone, but being interrupted by males really frosts my shorts.

I don't like people who are observing, in the middle of The Lab clearly doing something (prepping a large animal for surgery) start asking a million q's. I understand you are curious. I like curious, but you are being distracting. I was only seeing this from the door, and not part of it, so I didn't step in just then.

It feels to me that this is a kid who was encouraged to question, and explore, and grab life. But, I also feel like this is a kid who had every question answered by her parents, and who was taught that it was ok to interrupt others when she did have a question.

I think it is the interrupting that gets my hackles up. I recognize being interrupted is a button for me, and its been that way since I started. or was born. So, recognizing that, does it make a difference to how I treat this kid? I think not.

Some beautiful hackles raised:


7 responses so far

  • Sam says:

    Get off my lawn!

    Just kidding, I am going through something similar. GET OUT OF MY WAY, KID!

  • eeke says:

    Has anyone (you or someone in your lab) tried to correct her behavior? It could be she is just clueless and needs the feedback. I've found that these older kids (most) are very responsive once they've been made aware of their errors.

    • potnia theron says:

      I didn't want to do this, because I felt it wasn't my place. I suspect someone did, as she seemed to grow over time.

  • AEMcDonald says:

    I remember reading something recently that stated that girls and women are more frequently interrupted than boys or men. I can't remember the source however. Since becoming aware of that I've really clamped down on the amount of interrupting each other that occurs during our family dinners. I noticed that my young daughter was constantly interrupted by all of us on a regular basis and we've now nipped that in the bud by outlining new rules at the dinner table. Only one person speaks at a time and you make sure that the person is finished speaking before you take your turn. Dinner conversations in our house are a lot more pleasant now. I've also made sure to avoid interrupting colleagues at work as I identified that as something that I should work on.

  • gmp says:

    There is definitely an entitlement element to it, I think. I have seen it in many American prospective graduate students -- their attitude is that they are waiting for me, the professor, to impress them enough so they'd join my group.
    And interrupting instead of observing and thinking is a manifestation of having an outsize view of one's own importance in the situation.
    I guess what ticks me off is the assumption we are professional equals when we are not.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, so a bright, curious teenager hasn't quite figured out how to conduct herself in a professional setting -- what a problem! If only there were a wise, caring mentor around to help her out....

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