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The Emotional Scientist

The most interesting part of Palmer’s piece to me was his section advocating for care of students’ emotions and emotional intelligence. As a scientist, and particularly as a female, we are told to ignore our emotions and do our work. Or that we are too emotional to do science and thus, shouldn’t be here. Any showcase of emotions is seen as weak. We are told that science has no room for emotions. This mindset is particularly prevalent in graduate school, where we’re told to just push through without feeling anything. When a graduate student talks about not sleeping, not eating, being stressed beyond belief, etc. we’re all told this is a normal part of the process. We’re not given advice on how to cope, we’re not given advice to make our situation better, we’re simply told that everyone also feels this way and to be strong is to simply push through. We aren’t encourage to be open and honest about our struggles. We aren’t asked to take a look at the institution that pressures its students to work beyond their capacity.

What will happen once we’re allowed to be emotional and express our feelings? Will this make us less objective? Will we become consumed in our emotions? I don’t believe so. I think display of emotions will be healthy and could possibly help with retention rates.

But what does this mean as future professors? Professors will now need training in how to properly handle the emotions of their students and how to cultivate an environment in which their students feel comfortable to express themselves. But as future professors, that is part of our job. Our job is to raise future professionals and that involves giving them the skills to survive their field.

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