There needs to be a term for that jealousy and shame of being jealous one sometimes feels simultaneously at professional meetings.
The conference I was at this weekend, as I detailed below, went remarkably well. For the first time in months, I felt confident talking about my dissertation project, my writing, and my career goals with people who were interersted and able to offer good advice. But this one moment (and really, it was only a moment...) made me think a lot about myself, my field, and gender in academia:
At the women's breakfast, a generally warmfuzzy group of 2nd wave feminists were tucking in to weak coffee and rubbery scrambled eggs. I was sitting across from another graduate student, in the same year of a PhD program as I am, who already has several articles published and awards won. She also has kids, is finishing her dissertation this year, and has a tenure-track position for next fall at Great University in what happens to be my husband's Dream City. I should also mention that she is a gorgeous woman, with incredibly cool clothes and shoes, perfect hair, etc. To top it off, she was incredibly friendly and, well, nice (though I hate that word) too.
I admit, it was a lot to be faced with at 7am without even a decent cup of coffee in me. I was envious, and I was ashamed of myself for feeling envious.
Here is this person who works on a very similar topic and time period, finishing faster and bigger, with all of our (admittedly tiny) world seeming to offer up open arms. On the one hand, this is truly fabulous. It's hard for women (for anyone, really) in my field, and harder still I'm sure if you have kids to take care of. Sisterhood is powerful, I wish her the best, and truly want to be the kind of person who feels only joy at the successes of others.
On the other hand, how could you not be jealous? Or feel (just a little) like by comparison you are just a lazy stupid complainer baby who needs hand holding and can't cut it on her own, even without kids to deal with and with all the amazing benefits I do have?