This is Not Okay

Hey, Physics & Astronomy Professors? THIS IS NOT OKAY!

I recognized long ago that it’s important to have a full life that includes a lot more than just my scientific interests for my physical and mental health and well-being. Which is why I’m absolutely livid over this letter, circulated in a top astronomy department (which — I cannot prove — but I believe I once worked at), reproduced in its entirety, with my commentary, below.

I routinely worked >60-hour weeks in grad school, or at least I was at school for at least 60 hours a week — there was always some late-night decompression (hall golf or some game on the computer). In at 11 and leave for home after midnight was routine for the lab, with breaks for meals, and then additional time the weekends. (I did a few 80+ hour stints as a postdoc at TRIUMF, because when you have beam time, you run the experiment 24/7.) I also got the “this isn’t a 40-hour a week job” lecture once, during a rough patch when I was “only” putting in about that amount. But I also got time to myself to have a little bit of a life — limited to what you might have on a grad student stipend. This letter is over the line, unless the purpose is to drive people entirely from the field.