I survived a day at the <redacted> office in Bamako and I learned some things.
1. I am always waiting for something to go wrong while I am there. This is because often things go wrong and I have to do emergency logistics wrangling or deal with people who are mad at me for things that are not my fault.
2. Relatedly: there are a lot of rules for how to do things right, except nobody tells me what those rules are until I have messed up somehow and then they get annoyed and tell me I should have done something different
3. I have never had a designated desk there, I’m always borrowing someone else’s. None of those desks have walls behind them, and I am apparently a PTSD cliché who wants a goddamn wall behind me and not a door or window.
4. There is literally one woman in a scientist position in the entire organization of idk 20ish scientists.
5. This is because all the new hires are African men with a certain view of the world
6. Which worldview is that hierarchies are good and important and should be strictly obeyed, and that being in charge means not having to listen to anyone beneath you.
7. And they are generally concerned with, in order, 1. Being recognized 2. Getting the paperwork done right 3. Getting research published 4. Doing good research 5. ????? 6. ????? 17. Actually doing something useful for farmers
8. I should correct point 5: There have been 2 women who were hired in the 3.65 years I’ve been here (and I think 6 men?). Both of them left because the institution was so completely horrible to them. The one remaining woman technically doesn’t work for <redacted> but for a related organization. And is a postdoc. Literally every single Senior Scientist is male.
9. Don’t come at me about being racist for specifying African men. Not all African men have these obnoxious worldviews, and they are not unique to African men. The hierarchies and authority structures are however distressingly common in my experience. White people have plenty of our own problems but at least I can go talk to my big-shot academic supervisor in Europe and expect him to take me seriously and judge my ideas on merit and not on status.
10. I don’t understand why you work for an international research for development organization if you don’t give a shit about farmers. I don’t understand how you move across the continent to Mali, are here for 3 years, and don’t learn French. I don’t understand how you willfully ignore everything outside your narrow specialty including many things that you really should understand in order to do useful research in your specialty. I don’t understand.
Ten is a good number of things.
Tags:talking to myself, crosspost, glamorous expat life, next up in mo talks shop: wtf usaid?
Tumblr post (this is likely a reblog, and may have more pictures over there)