Thursday, August 03, 2006

Speak Up, Speak Out

I broke one of my own career rules yesterday. I was attending a seminar for a departmental candidate along with my husband. Another faculty, who had emailed my husband concerning sharing reagents for a mammalian inducible expression system, was also in attendance. My husband had passed this email along to me because I have successfully used this system in my laboratory, I have the reagents, and I have the experience to help them out. I emailed back the contact person in this lab who was actually going to use it and we got together and exchanged the necessary components and information. Well, at this seminar, the PI thanked my husband for supplying the inducible system reagents. I was sitting right next to him and I didn't say anything. I broke my career rule Number 1: Speak Up, Speak Out.

What are my rules? They were extracted from a book by Gail Evans called Play Like A Man Win Like A Woman. I haven't read the book but the Six Rules of Success that I printed out were excerpted from this book on a website I was looking at some 5-6 years ago (I don't remember which one, sorry). The stories on Science+Professor+Women=Me's, YoungFemaleScientist's and ScienceWoman's blogs that I've been reading lately reminded me of these rules which I have taped next to my computer.

The Six Rules for Success were listed as follows:
1. Speak Up, Speak Out: Sit at the front of the room. Voice your opinions. Make eye contact. Get noticed.

2. Toot Your Own Horn: Men learn to call attention to their deeds. Women need to do the same. Take credit for your accomplishments.

3. Don't Expect to Make Friends: Remember that your job is only part of who you are. Making friends is not an objective of a business situation. It's just nice when it happens.

4. Accept Uncertainty: Have faith in your ability to perform and stop worrying about tackling a new job. There's no such thing as absolute certainty. Part of being good at work is learning to improvise.

5. Take Risks: You can't get ahead without sticking your neck out. Remember that failures are learning experiences that can lead to successes.

6. Don't Assume Responsibility Without Authority: Avoid volunteering for tasks where key people don't report to you. Offer your services only when you are certain there is a career opportunity. (this one I'm always doing......)
(adapted from Gail Evans' book by Victoria Fung)

You can find a more extensive list of the "rules" and a really good review of the book here as well.

So why didn't I speak up and say something to the effect of
"I'm so happy my lab could provide your lab with these reagents. We've had a lot of success generating inducible mammalian cells with this system so feel free to call me if you have any technical questions or need to do some troubleshooting"?
Maybe it's because it was my husband and I don't feel threatened by any successes that he might have. But then again, as you know if you've been reading this blog, I struggle with gaining the respect of my colleagues because I was "the wife of the recruit".

I should have spoken up. It would have created a situation where there was direct eye contact (rule #1) and recognition of my position with a senior member of another department (also rule #1). It's a missed opportunity. I put Gail Evans' book on my Amazon.com wish list. I'll get it as soon as I finish reading Pope Joan and Siblings without Rivalry.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

"6. Don't Assume Responsibility Without Authority."

As a gender, we tend to take on ALL the responsibility without first asking basic questions.
Example: What budget, resources, spaces, people, power will I have to be successful?