Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Links: Two for the price of one.

Found two excellent links today:

First, excellent article by John Belcher on his depression. He is Professor of Physics at MIT: IN GOOD COMPANY: With tenure but not without troubles.  For example:
"I am no doctor, but I do recognize the symptoms of depression. If a student comes to me with troubles of any kind, I always tell them to go to S3 or Mental Health. In case depression is the cause of the trouble, I also share with them that I have been clinically depressed and am on Prozac, and that there is no shame in that."
Second, a blog post not mainly about depression, but about encouraging a community in the PL world - which is not explicitly stated but I think means the Programming Language research community.

It's by Chris Martens and called How to create the PL culture I'd like to believe we deserve. It focusses on a lot of things, like use of inclusive language for example, but has this segment:
"4. Understand and discuss atypical brain function. One way to put this point is: stop valuing your colleagues on the basis of how "smart" you think they are, through e.g. how quickly they can solve a problem you put forth or how long it takes them to grasp a point from a paper or talk. Another thing I'm saying with this is that depression in academia is super common, yet we never talk about it; compounding situations like PTSD are less common yet can be totally crippling in combination with depression and the concomitant taboo/lack of sympathy for anyone who's not at least high-functioning with their atypicality. In fact perhaps we just expect that everyone in academia is "a little bit crazy", which means that a) we have some uniform idea of what that means and how it affects everyone (everyone responds to stress with workaholism, right?) and b) we don't talk about it at all, or what we could be doing to help each other, because we just think it's an inevitable part of the ride."
But this article overall  speaks to me: for non Computer Scientists it might be shocking, but it's probably true that the majority of people in the field are White, Male, Straight, Full Time, Not Mentally or Physically Disabled.   Put all that (and a few more probably majorities) together and it means we are not great at welcoming people who aren't like us.  I mean officially we are: but that doesn't mean we are in real life, since throwaway comments or working assumptions can make life unpleasant for others.

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