My Third Child

I have decided to refer to my dissertation as my third child and treat it as such for the time being. (I am open to suggestions for a name – please comment with some ideas.) I’ve heard many writers liken the writing process to birth, so I think this is an apt metaphor. I have to send it to the doctor’s frequently, attend conferences to discuss how well it is doing, and, I imagine, when it’s all grown up, I will be proud of how it’s turned out.

For me, treating the dissertation like progeny might be the only way I get this done. I plan to:

  • spend time with it every day;
  • remember to tell it, “I love you;”
  • feed it with good, healthy words; and
  • vow to still love it even when I don’t like it.

And at the moment, I don’t like it. It is a colicky pain in the ass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is the only big difference between my dissertation and my children: right now, I really wish I wasn’t its mother; in fact, if I could send it away to boarding school and have someone else raise it (and then take all the credit), I would seriously consider it. I have never felt this way about my children.

Data heads unite!

All right, people, I need your help. Pronto.

Here’s the situation: I am presenting in Vancouver, and although I am a qualitative researcher at heart, I see the value of mixed methods and do like the idea of quantitative (supposedly more objective) data to round it out. To that end, I gave my juniors and freshmen the short form of the Children’s Sex Role Inventory. This psychological inventory measures sex typing and androgyny and consists of three sub scales – femininity, masculinity, and neutral. The long form of the test has 60 items and the short form has 30. The kids rate each statement on a 4 point scale, with 4=very true of me, 3=mostly true of me, 2=a little true of me, and 1=not at all true on me.

I could go into why this is valuable for what I am studying, but I fear it will take longer than I have and bore you. What I would rather show you are the results, which I think are fascinating, but I need some help with what you think they mean. If you have no statistical background, even better (I think). I think I would like to include these results in my presentation, if not directly, than indirectly by choosing certain students to focus on based on their scores here.

Here is a line graph displaying the results of the juniors (you can click on these pics to enlarge them):

In this graph, the blue lines represent the average on the masculinity subscale and the red line represents the average on the femininity subscale. So, student 1 has a 2 on masculinity and a 3.2 on femininity. My questions to you are as follows:

  1. Which of these students would you want to hear more about? Pick about 4, please, and it would be great if you could put them in order.
  2. What does this graph tell you? Give me your gut reactions. Based on what little or how much you know about my school and my general student population, does anything surprise you?

Okay, now here is a graph representing one of my freshmen classes:

The same key applies, but this class has 20 students instead of 16. My questions are similar:

  1. Which of these students would you want to hear more about? Pick about 4, please, and it would be great if you could put them in order.
  2. What does this graph tell you? Give me your gut reactions. Based on what little or how much you know about my school and my general student population, does anything surprise you?
  3. What strikes you about the differences or comparisons between the freshmen graph and the junior graph?

Okay? If you have further questions, fire away.

Ready. Set. Go.

The most helpful response will win a free, autographed copy of my dissertation…but probably not really.

What I really want…

is to come home at the end of a workday and be done working. I would love to come home and read a book or knit or sleep.

To be clear, I do these things, but always with the stifling awareness that I should be doing more work because there is just so much to do. I am afraid that by signing on to this Ph.D. program, I unwittingly signed myself up for a lifetime of this feeling. After all, once I get the Ph.D., it’s not over. That is just when I can get another job that will require me to conduct more research and produce more publications.

Why did I want this? Oh, right, intellectual curiosity, ambition, the need to prove myself to…myself? It all seems highly overrated at the moment, though everyone who’s made it to the other side seems to believe it was all worth it.

For now, I will take their word for it.