07 October 2009
By Sarah Davies
I’m a little bit obsessed with the fact that I appear to look younger than I am. After spending my teenage years successfully getting served alcohol, retribution has caught up with me: in my thirtieth year, I get IDed buying wine at the supermarket and mistaken for an undergrad on campus.
Now, I know I should be flattered. I seem to have hit 18 on my thirteenth birthday and not aged since. But it does get a little bit wearing – and maybe this ties in to another obsession of mine.
I really don’t like being called a post-doc.
If asked I tell people I’m a researcher – it’s what I do, after all. But often the label gets applied to me whether I like it or not: oh, they say, a post-doc researcher. It’s taken me some thinking to work out just why it bugs me so much.
I find it patronising. The assumption is that you’re post something – your PhD – but very much pre something else – presumably the giddy heights of a lectureship. It places you halfway up a scale which everyone is assumed to be eager to ascend. You’re better than a student, but not as good as ‘real’ academic staff.
But this just isn’t my experience. Why shouldn’t research be a career, rather than something you do until you get a permanant contract and are faced with the dubious joys of teaching? Why should it be situated ‘post’ one thing and ‘pre’ another?
I’m quite prepared to admit I may be being over-sensitive here. I’d be interested in what other people think: is the term annoying, or just descriptive?
In the meantime, though, just call me a researcher. And, if I’ve left my ID at home, buy me a drink.