Thursday, February 21, 2008

What I have learned...

I've calmed down a bit since the fiasco with my guest lecture. I received a very contrite email, apologizing for not giving me information, because it apparently really never did occur to the guy that I might not have known where to go. Those were almost his exact words. Followed by "Can you do it Monday?"

Wow. I feel soooo much better. I'll just do it on Monday. 'Cause I'm always available to give an hour and a half long lecture at the drop of a hat on the other side of town. At 5pm. Did I forget to mention that? Yes, my kids are in daycare/afterschool programs that end at 6pm. There's a $1/minute late fee for each of them. For the day I was scheduled, I had arranged with my husband that he would absolutely pick them both up (most days I get Thing 1, he gets Thing 2, then picks us up on the way home). Unfortunately, hubby is away on a business trip on Monday, so the 5pm lecture is not going to work out so well.

And, by the way, what kind of class is he running that there are perpetually open slots for speakers in the next scheduled meeting time?

So, here's what I have learned:

  1. Whenever anyone asks me to do something (give a talk, write something up, etc) estimate how long it will take to do it, then multiply by two. Give that as the minimum time required to prepare.
  2. If getting something done within the timeframe I am proposing is going to mean pulling multiple all-nighters or working more than one day on weekend, the timeframe is too tight. The other party may provide a compelling reason for me to do those things, but it had better be good.
  3. Only take things as seriously as the other parties involved.
  4. Get everything in writing at least one week before the due date. This includes, but is not limited to: date, time, location (exact!), number of participants, context (ie: syllabus or list of other speakers).
  5. If compliance with number four is lacking, see number three.

I don't know when I will be able to give this blasted lecture. I can't believe that after I spent so much time and effort preparing for it, I really feel quite ambivalent about giving it now. I know, I know, "It would be a shame to waste all that work," and, "The students are really looking forward to hearing what you have to say," and, maybe, "You share a little bit of responsibilty for this, too. You should redeem yourself by giving a kick-ass lecture."

M'kay. Sure. When I get around to it.


Anonymous said...


Give the lecture on a day that would be more convenient for you daycare-wise (husband in town) and don't apologize or feel guilty. I'm a grad student and I really like guest lectures in classes (self-interest speaking here!) but it's also normal at my institution for profs to reschedule things to accommodate daycare (only male profs, amusingly, as we have one single female prof and one woman whose daughter is a teenager, and that's it!).

Btw, I am a new reader and a newishly married person, and I really liked your post from Valentine's Day. It's the kind of thing that kind of gives me hope for this marriage thing. (The happy birthday post was a little more harrowing!!)

luna_the_cat said...

Mm, I also think a polite "No, I can't do it on Monday, that's not convenient for me. I'd be happy to reschedule for something in a couple of weeks" might be the best response all around. It shows the man that you are not willing to drop everything for him, leaves room for tempers to cool, but also gives you a chance to get up there and show that a woman has some good research in [male-dominated field].

It's not fair, but your temper will get you judged as "too emotional" simply because you ARE female; of course you were mad at being jerked around by not getting enough information (although you'll never fail to doublecheck again, I bet!), but the problem is that this kind of thing can come back and bite YOU and not him -- you get that wonderful reputation of "not a team player".

Establish your position first. THEN kick ass.