modesty or not?

Pamela Norton pnorton at hendrix.JCI.TJU.EDU
Fri Jan 2 15:24:49 EST 1998

In article <68grag$oia at>, ravena at (Karen
Allendoerfer) wrote:

> In article <34A9765E.1ED3 at>,
> S L Forsburg  <forsburg at> wrote:
> >> From: cjfuller at (C.J. Fuller)
> >
> >> Friends-Well, someone has to work over the holidays. One of my holiday
> >> projects this year is getting my reappointment dossier in order. Talk
> >> about pulling chickens' teeth! There is a balance between bravado and
> >> overt modesty, and I favor the latter, as I imagine many of you do.
> >
> >My suggestion is, don't be afraid to be aggressively self-promoting.
> >You get NO POINTS in this business for being modest. 
> I agree with Susan.  I am applying for a job, and I wrote the cover
> letter, and it was, as you said, like pulling teeth.  I felt as if what
> I was written was stupid and egotistical both at the same time.  However,
> no one who's read the letter thus far thinks it's too self-promoting.
> I (and maybe many women) have learned a distorted view of what it means
> to be "arrogant."  And I think that a double standard for men and women
> contributes to it.

Cindy and all,

     I agree with Susan and Karen and the other poster in this thread that
modesty does not pay, but I also understand the reluctance to appear to
have an oversized ego. As far as CV stuff, list _everything_: abstracts,
seminar presentations, guest lectures, etc. This isn't bragging, just a
statement of fact. If you need to prepare a summary of your achievements,
try to highlight your most significant work, placing your contributions in
the context of the field at large. Also, enumerate your contributions to
your institution clearly.

     I received some good advice once which I will pass along but did not
heed myself at the time: Keep your CV up to date and complete. A couple of
years ago, I needed to generate a complete CV for promotion purposes, and
had to spend a lot of time tracking down every abstract I ever presented
and every talk that I had given. This stuff adds up. Now I keep it up to

     In reading Karen's excellent comments, some of which I have trimmed
out for space, I was reminded of the recent discussion concerning the lack
of positive reinforcement that is an all too common experience. Does
failure to promote our own achievements diminish the amount of positive
feedback? Or, does the lack of support lead to doubts regarding the merit
of one's work? I don't think I have an answer, but wanted to raise the
questions for discussion.


Pamela A. Norton, Ph.D.          Associate Professor of Medicine
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA 19107           p_norton at

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