Genre: nonfiction science
Length: 360 pages
Interest: I was provided a review copy by the publisher (but the review is my own opinion). I was interested in reading the book since I’ve spent some time in the academic environment addresses in this book. I’ve got a M.S. from an R1 university and teach at a small college (only part-time, but my husband is a college professor as well).
Summary: The book goes into the details of what’s involved in being a successful professor at an R1 university. The author is providing information from her experience as a woman from a country other than the U.S. at a high-profile, research-focused institution. She starts out discussing what professors actually do all day, since most people don’t really understand. She then goes on to discuss the process of getting an academic job, getting tenure, teaching, service, getting funding for all those grad students, writing papers, giving talks, and working with your colleagues. Throughout the book she relates details on what has worked for her and problems she’s had, as a scientist and as a woman in a very male-dominated field.
Final thoughts: This book should be required reading for anyone considering becoming a professor. Many of the details are specific to a big university vs. teaching at a smaller, teaching-oriented college, and physics vs. a different STEM field, but it still gives a great overview of what to expect. I recognized many of the situations from getting my Masters, and I wish I would have read this before I chose my major professor. It may have saved me from trying to get a Ph.D. with someone who didn’t support me. As a women in science, I also appreciated her candid discussion of sexism in science. She talked about her coping mechanisms and when to let it roll off your back and when to call out the speaker.
The chapters are short within each section, so you can easily dip in and out of the book. And, when things get too heavy, there are cartoons to lighten the mood. The author writes psuedonymously (and blogs the same way at Xykademiqz) so she can accurately describe some of the not-so-enjoyable situations she’s experienced. It also leads to comments about publishing in Really Important Journal or going to Prestigious Conference so you can’t break her pseudonym too easily. The book’s not perfect. There’s a couple of times the author repeats herself, and you can’t apply her experience to all STEM fields. But, it’s an easy read and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know what goes into being a professor.
Title comes from: A combination of academics and a maze that the professor and students are so often lost in.
Reading challenges fulfilled: #43 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge, #2 in my New Books Reading Challenge
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