presenting our work

Sarah L. Pallas spallas at
Wed Feb 21 18:02:04 EST 1996

In article <199602191455.IAA21049 at> Linden Higgins,
linden at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU writes:
>I did not get the job.  I was told that although seriously considered,
>there was doubt about whether I knew the "bigger context" of my research,
>or where my next projects would take it.  Now, I know perfectly well
>my research is going, and its importance.  The woman who told me this
>confided that she'd never met a male candidate who had problems making
>everyone knew exactly what his plans were and why they were important....
>This may reflect the question of how we view our own research;  wasen't
>there a recent thread about how women are much less likely to view their
>research, and their abilities, as exceptional?   Although I enjoy talking
>about my own work, when it came to interviewing, I didn't want anyone to
>think that I wasen't itnerested in their work (besides, I was afraid of
>boring them), and I over did it.

I got similar complaints for the last job I was rejected for.  I've
modified my style somewhat since then.  Here's some suggestions, probably
worth what you paid for them.  

It may vary by field, but didn' t they ask you for a statement of
research plans?  In my field (neuroscience) uou give a two page one for
the application in my field, but you can always send a more detailed one
prior to your interview, and then just ask the faculty you visit with if
they got a chance to look at your plans, and what did they think about
it.  You should also incorporate future research plans into your seminar,
and relate those to the "big picture" and why you're ideas are the
greatest thing since sliced bread.  You can also volunteer to give a 2nd,
informal seminar where you specifically discuss your future plans.  I did
this on my last interview and it was exhausting to give two seminars, but
maybe it will help.  Some places ask you to give two talks anyway, one on
what you did and what on what you will do.

To take this back to Susan's original question, I do think most women are
more reluctant to toot their own horn, as compared to most men.  Extreme
self-confidence always seems so impolite, or arrogant, somehow.  I might
even extend that to say that women do science less to advance their own
careers and more because they're just interested in the science, whereas
I think most men are more likely to have their future reputation in the
forefront of their mind in choosing projects and so forth.  But I think
that's probably an overgeneralization so feel free to throw flames.  I
suppose it is a fact that in our society males are more conditioned
toward competition and females are more conditioned toward cooperation. 
That carries over into collaborative research projects.

As a general comment, I don't like to accept statements that men are more
one way and women are more another way, because it is stereotyping, and
there will always be exceptions, maybe lots of them.  Also, if we
ourselves say women do science in a particular way you can bet it will
then be considered the WRONG way.  But I think there are trends toward
differences in style that are significant.  Now if scientists could just
celebrate those differences instead of condemning them!

Sarah Pallas

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