I’m going to get back to the job search series, I swear. I think we are about up to what to do if an offer should come your way, and it is going to take me a bit of time to write that section… so I request your indulgence.
In the meantime- I’ve been stewing a little bit about luck and planning, confidence and arrogance, self-promotion and being a girl. By accident the other day I ran across a couple of articles including this one and this one. The PDF files for these are available on Jo Handelsman’s Faculty Web Page, if you are interested in reading the complete text (you should, if you haven’t already, and the Babcock & Laschever book is really excellent, and is listed in useful books above). An excerpt from that second paper just jumped out and grabbed me:
Summarizing research on gender differences in self-promotion, Babcock and Laschever(25) conclude that girls and women are socialized from an early age not to self-promote. The recurrent admonition to girls not to brag or show off is so deeply embedded in gender norms of behavior, they posit, that not only is it difficult for women to engage in self-promotion, but self-promoting women are viewed negatively, and susceptible to social penalties. Miller et al., (26) for example, found that when students were given a written ‘boasting’ statement, their assessment of likability of the author was much lower if they thought it was written by a woman than if they thought the author was a man. Other research has shown that likability is an independent predictor of recommendation for advancement.(20) Rudman(27) performed a series of experiments with simulated job interviews in which students interviewed scripted actors who were self-promoting or self-effacing about their expertise at a computer game. The purpose was to select a partner, with the goal of receiving a fifty dollar prize if together they won the game. Self-promoting men were favored for hiring over self-promoting women even at the risk of losing the prize.
So, you are telling me that I’m programmed to be modest, I’m in a job where I need to be self-promoting…and as a woman I’ll do worse BECAUSE I’m self-promoting (which I don’t do well, but just for the sake of argument). Great. This just sucks. And right now I know you are all saying- to quote my friend Andrea- What, is she new here???
This post isn’t going to come out too well thought out- I’m just warning you now. A few days ago I made a comment on a post by Physioprof at Drugmonkey (who was following up a post by Sciencewoman)… and a follow up comment on a post by Drugmonkey… where I had said that one makes one’s own ‘luck’… and what I said was….
too often when things go well in my job, I just think- well, I got lucky. This downplays my own active role in making the good things happen, and I don’t think my experience is all that unique- especially for women.
What I meant was- be prepared, think ahead, plan ahead, … then when the right opportunity or moment arises, as unexpected as it may be, you will be ready for it. (This second part, by the way was PPs whole point)
‘Well, I got lucky’ ?…- I was thinking: I won the lottery in my work… I was thinking: it just happened….. I wasn’t softening anything with a qualifier because the brainwash that has apparently unconsciously been done on me since I was in diapers, about being modest- usually leads me to discount my own small successes. But DM replied….
This downplays my own active role in making the good things happen, and I don’t think my experience is all that unique- especially for women.
It is tricky. If one goes around bragging that one deserves every grant award one receives as if this was some objective reflection of overall merit as a scientist, well, this is just a touch conceited. Perhaps more than a touch. Not to mention it has a tendency to imply that someone who is not similarly successful is unworthy. Since we don’t want to come across as insulting and arrogant, many people (no not just women) soften with qualifiers indicating luck or chance.
Ah, no. I’m not suggesting that one should go around bragging that absolutely everything one has done is DESERVED, and that one is the greatest thing since sliced bread (male or female). But I do think it is a bad thing that us girls might be considered arrogant or conceited for occasionally thinking, realizing for the first time, and perhaps acknowledging that they had an active role in making good things happen.
Just had to get that off my chest.
(And, I sure didn’t mean to imply that efforts, no matter how successful or not, don’t matter… they do, they matter tremendously- and that is what I meant by preparing yourself by planning, thinking, etc.- so that when and if an opportunity presents itself you are ready. If Sciencewoman was offended I sincerely apologize.)