Thursday, June 30, 2011

It gets better

They just created a new job so that they can hire one of the men.

This is someone who is universally acknowledged to be a pain in the arse and to have done quite badly at the interviews. (The one who said our students suck.) So he would not have been a good choice for a teaching job. So they created a job with no teaching responsibilities so they can hire him anyway.

I guess it's nice to know they CAN create random new positions when they feel like it. Maybe they'll feel like it for me too one day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And now they want to know...

... whether I can teach some courses for them next semester.

Teaching is not included in my current contract.

Unfortunately, I can't just suggest they get the people they just hired to teach these classes since the new hires don't start until the beginning of next year. But damn! I do not feel especially motivated right now. Perhaps they might have considered waiting more than two days after rejecting me for a job before asking me to teach. I guess they are in a rush to cover the courses. (Next semester starts in about a month).

And I'll do it, because the person who fell ill and needs her classes covered is awesome and she is stressed about it, and because the department is offering to put some extra money in an account for me that I can use for research expenses.

But did I say damn! already? Yes, I believe I did. But I'll say it again.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Job rant

The only thing I'm kind of struggling with with this job situation is the thought that this was it. This was my only chance. Those gazillion retirements that are coming up as the baby boomers get to the end of their careers? They've all happened now, in our department anyway. We've had six retirements in the past couple of years. They replaced them with two hires at full professor level (but younger people who probably still have 20 years of career left), one at level C (so, maybe equivalent to the US associate professor level?) and this one junior hire. They may still be hiring one more junior person, but if they do, it will be to cover a sub-discipline that there is no way in hell I am qualified to teach, and I doubt I could even apply. The next retirements in our department are probably going to happen in around 15 years.

Geekman (fortunately) looks like he's set here for the foreseeable future. We aren't going to be doing an international job search any time soon. So I think I'm now committed to putting together one of those careers where you try and line up one grant after another. And that's pretty exhausting, if I can even do it at all. So many grant agencies don't let you apply for your own salary, and collaborative grants are kind of the exception in my field, so having other people willing to apply for a salary for me on their grant is unlikely. The big national grants scheme has just revamped all its funding rules, and I can't even tell if I'll be eligible to apply for a fellowship at the end of this current one.

Dammit. This is really hard.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Oh well

I didn't get the job. But it did go to a woman, and she is definitely the best qualified for the position. People have been talking about this position as "B—'s job" ever since it was first advertised. And the short-term one has been offered to another woman, who is also a good fit.

The only thing that I'm upset about is that it became clearer and clearer through the selection process that the head of the selection panel, who is also my immediate superior and head of our department, has no respect at all for my research and doesn't really think I'm a "real linguist". I have to keep working for/with this guy for the next three years, and I really respect him, so it's quite upsetting that the feelings aren't reciprocated. I don't know what to do about that.

I guess I have to stop hoping for his support and just get on and do things on my own. As I have been. But it's exhausting.

Friday, June 24, 2011

And then the final interview...

... was really weird and hostile.

I feel like it's pretty safe to assume I didn't get the job.

While we are talking about gender...

I have been interviewed by 24 people so far for this job. Four of them were female. Two of those were PhD students. For two of the interviews I was facing a large panel consisting entirely of old white men.

And they wonder why selection committees in this department have historically never ever hired a woman.

Le sigh

French guy "I was in Sydney on the weekend, and tried to strike up conversations with people in the street like I would in Paris, but no one wanted to talk to me. They even looked frightened that I would try to approach them. Australians are so cold and rude."

Me "Really? Everyone in Paris is happy to talk to strangers on the street?"

French guy "Sure."

Me "Huh. I would have thought some women there, like everywhere else I know, might be a bit nervous when approached by random men."

French woman (and French guy knows she is also French) "Yes, they are."

French guy "Ha ha, what, you think you're going to get raped in broad daylight in the middle of the city?"

Me and French woman, almost simultaneously "It's not about rape, necessarily. It's about street harrassment."

French woman "Yes, it's annoying when they follow you and ask for your number and won't leave you alone."

French guy "That absolutely does not happen."

Me "Yes it does. And then they call you a bitch, because you aren't being sufficiently friendly."

French guy "That has never happened to me."

French woman "Maybe because you are a man?"

French guy "But it has never happened to anyone I know. French people are not like that."

French woman, to me "You just haven't been watching—"

French guy, interrupting her "Women are so paranoid. Here in Australia anyway. They are probably all like Styleygeek, always worrying they are going to get raped."

Me "That's not what I said."

French woman "That's not what we're saying."

French guy "Well French women are not like that, anyway."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day one

I think the job talk went okay. People said it was fun. Hopefully it's okay to be fun. But if they want to hire an un-fun person, maybe I don't want to work there anyway.

Also, stupid ash cloud. Two of the candidates got stranded elsewhere so there was a last minute re-organisation of the programme, and one of my interviews got moved up to yesterday, when I wasn't prepared for it yet. It was the one about teaching, and I had planned to figure out a teaching philosophy and what courses we actually offer sometime last night. Oops. Still, I think it went better than the interview of the guy before me, who I overheard telling the selection committee that students at this university kind of suck.

The other two interviews were at opposite ends of the interview spectrum. In one, the three people interviewing mainly talked to each other. About cricket. I was worried about that, but talking to the other candidates later, they all had the same experience. The other was the one organised by the PhD students and man that was intense. It was mainly hypothetical questions ("What would you do if your student turned out to be a crack addict?"), with a few "are you a real linguist?" questions thrown in for the fun of it. (Seriously, "Define [technical term] and explain the various schools of thought on that concept.")

The hiking thing kind of turned into a half hour coffee stop and ten minute brisk walk around the botanical gardens, which would have been a relief, except that I didn't know about the change of plan in advance, so still spent ages trying to find an outfit that worked for interviews, job talk and bush-walking.

It's kind of weird interacting with the other candidates. Three of them I knew already; two I didn't. Everyone is being terribly nice to each other. It's quite exhausting.

Due to the rejig of the programme, I don't have any interviews scheduled today—just the candidate dinner. Tomorrow is my final interview, and then they are scheduled to make a decision and offer in the afternoon. I have heard rumours that two of the candidates will only consider the jobs if they are offered a LOT more money than is currently available, so I guess if the offer goes to one of them, we may not know the outcome for a few days while negotiations take place. These are the two currently working in the USA, and apparently they are horrified by the cost of living here, and don't see how they could survive on the usual salary.

My kitten is purring so much she has given herself the hiccups. That is perhaps irrelevant, but I'm a bit out of practice at this blogging thing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Holy shit job talk etc oh dear

The final Big Deal Thing out of this little catch-up-with-my-life series I seem to be running is that I have been shortlisted for a permanent job in my department.


Actually there are two jobs: a three year one and a permanent one. I only applied for the permanent one, but they seem to have pooled all the shortlisted candidates for both. So there are six of us being interviewed next week—some for both jobs, and some for one or the other.

The other candidates are all amazing and their CVs are terrifying and I don't know how I even got into the mix. I'm guessing I probably shouldn't say that in the interview, though.

The process is being run like a serious Big Deal Event. There are job talks and focus groups (with students, colleagues, and publishers) and interviews with the selection committee, and a reception and a dinner, and a hiking trip (to see who pushes who off a cliff, perhaps?).

Actually the whole hiking thing is confusing. My job talk is directly beforehand. The time my job talk is scheduled to end is the time the hike is meant to begin. I'm guessing this will not leave me time to change clothes without holding everyone up. But I'm not sure what I can wear that works both for walking in the Australian bush in winter, and giving a job talk. Then I have to come back and do focus group meetings directly afterwards.

Our department is at the extreme end of the casual–formal dress continuum. The last two people we hired wore jeans and bare feet(!) to their job talks. But I suspect there may be different standards at play for women. And the selection committee includes people from outside the department who are from disciplines where dress standards are a little... tidier. (Law, for example).

And then I'm not sure how I feel about being an internal candidate. There are actually two candidates who are currently in the department, and two of the others were here until last year before they moved overseas. Then there is one from the USA and one from Norway. The usual pattern of this department is to hire men who did their PhD here then went somewhere like MIT or Oxford for a couple of years. There is no one in this shortlisted group who precisely fits that pattern. There is a woman who does. And there's a man who did a postdoc here, then went to the USA after that, so is close enough. My guess is that those two probably have the best chance. I'm guessing the American has a very good chance too.

The biggest issue with being an internal candidate is that my entire LIFE right now feels like a job interview. Every time I've attended a seminar since being shortlisted, I've worried that I'm not asking smart enough questions at the end. If I miss a department event, I worry that people will take this as evidence that I am not sufficiently collegial. I feel like I need to be seen arriving early and leaving late.


It will all be over this time next week. They plan to make the decision and offer on Friday afternoon already. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Then there was this other thing we did...

So obviously the cat was way more important, but also, we bought a house.

It was quite yellow.

But then we painted it.

We were quite lucky it was yellow, actually, because it didn't show well, and we got it for the lowest price paid for a house in this suburb for over a year. Even though it was in perfect structural condition.

Another example of the yellow:

After after the de-yellowing:

The bedrooms benefited both from a de-yellowing, and an un-horribling of the curtains.

The garden is small but pretty (and almost entirely native, with an automated drip watering system). The location is great: a quiet street one block from a nature reserve, with a 20 minute bicycle ride along cycle paths through parkland to the university. The neighbours seem quiet and maybe interesting: they keep ducks and chickens and their wireless network is named UnexplainedBacon.

There's central heating, which is relatively uncommon in Australia, and delicious this time of year—although I nearly died of shock when I saw our first gas bill.

I think we're going to like it here.

Monday, June 13, 2011



Yes, we named our kitten after a Lovecraftian horror. But doesn't she look like a terrifying demon? A sleepy, sleepy, terrifying demon?

“It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train, a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and unforming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down on us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter.”
“Still came that eldritch, mocking cry: 'Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!'”
“Shoggoths and their work ought not to be seen by human beings or portrayed by any beings.”
“I had seen those primal sculptures, too, and had shudderingly admired the way the nameless artist had suggested that hideous slime coating found on certain incomplete and prostrate Elder Ones those whom the frightful Shoggoths had characteristically slain and sucked to a ghastly headlessness in the great war of resubjugation”

Yeah, the vet didn't think it was funny, either. But I have a receipt for one vaccinated Shoggoth, which is more than Lovecraft ever had.