As you may already understand, the title of this post is just a metaphor to describe how generally scientists love to show their ego and to compare their achievements, in the scientific community, regardless of gender…
When scientists approach for the first time, in conferences, they spend the first five minutes to study each other, like two dogs smelling each other butt.
If you are a PhD student or a Post-Doc, an ordinary question is: “How many publications do you have?” They probably even don’t know the topic you are working in, but you know… size matters! But they are also interested in quality, so the following question is “Did you publish in a high impact factor journal?“, they still have to learn that
often, sometimes, behind peer review process there is not only science. Prestige and visibility are also important, so a common question is also “Who is your Supervisor?”, because you can shine of indirect light.
Between Researchers or Professors, the “quantitative approach” is quite similar and the most common question become, “How big is your group?” , they indeed already know how many publications and in which journal their collegues or competitors published. Sometimes the quantitative style is evident also in articles or presentations and you can read sentences like, “world record”, “best results”, “for the first time” and so on…
I seldom heard more interesting questions, like “Did you have fun doing your science?“, “What are the implications of your research for the future everyday life?“, “Why your research is beautiful? Describe me, the beauty and the curiosity behind it“, “What would you be curious to study, if you would have unlimited financial support?“, “Are you facing some interesting problem? May I help you? Just let’s speak about it“.
These considerations are not criticims against scientists, don’t get me wrong. Scientists are just men and women, and like everybody else, they build mental borders to classify people.
How many people did you meet that asked you, “What’s your job?” and How many asked you “What’s your favourite color?