Strategies to go from merely surviving to THRIVING for women in STEM
It’s interesting to me how many people confuse being kind with being nice. If you look at the definitions of the two words they are similar but not identical. One definition of nice is amiably pleasant/ kind so I can see why people think if you are nice you are kind as well. However, if you look at what it means to be kind you will see a difference.
Nice is about being agreeable, pleasing, or pleasant. Kind on the other hand is about being considerate, helpful, or benevolent. For me there is a nuance here that is important to note. Being agreeable is not the same as being considerate. Nice says I must go along with you, kind says I must consider your perspective. They aren’t equal.
Here’s what the means at work. If I’m being nice, I won’t correct bad behavior, I won’t hold people accountable, and I will put other people ahead of myself. This is very passive behavior. If I’m nice...
I’m the youngest of three, and there’s a 9- and 12-year gap between my brothers and me. Being the youngest was hard at time, by time I started school my brothers were in high school. Everyone knew my younger brother was brilliant. That was the role he played in the family – “the smart kid”.
Frankly elementary school bored me so everyday when mom asked how my day was I talked about friends, recess, and everything but what I was learning. I got decent grades, but nothing spectacular. During this time, I got labeled the dumb kid. I believed it through high school and into college.
I fully realize, now, that this is clearly not the case. Am I on the same level as my one brother? Nope and that’s totally okay with me. Most everyone who knows me will say I’m very smart and they like that about me.
The interesting thing about this label is that as I started my career, and was the youngest on my team, I doubted whether I was smart enough or knew...
Be Brilliant & Be Heard
When I started working in the mid-1980s I was a novelty in many ways, a young female engineer working on a naval station. There were no other women engineers in the Engineering Division when I started and only a few on base. Even though I had gone through an engineering degree program, I wasn’t ready for the reality of how hard it was going to be to be accepted and respected. Those first years, at multiple employers, were bumpy, frustrating and at times down-right demoralizing. More than once I questioned whether I could make it or not.
Fortunately, I had been told I could do anything, and my mom had taken the path less traveled in her short career, so I knew it could be done. With time and experience I got better at connecting and communicating with my co-workers and managers. That did more to build my credibility than anything else I did. In turn my confidence grew, which helped me be even better at communication and my credibility grew more.
When was the last time you approached someone for help and started the conversation with “Sorry to bother you”? Why did you say that? Often, we do it to be polite and acknowledge the interruption. That is all well and good, however there is no reason to apologize for asking for help.
We need to recognize that people are busy and likely engrossed in what they are doing. It is polite to recognize that we are interrupting them. It doesn’t warrant an apology, you haven’t made a mistake or done anything wrong. Save the apology for when it’s appropriate such as “Sorry I’m late getting you this information the system was down, and I couldn’t get into the database.”
When we apologize when it isn’t warranted, we diminish our credibility and it comes across as a lack of confidence. Studies show that women find more reasons to apologize then men do. Why are you undermining yourself by apologizing?
4 Ways to be...
When was the last time you asked yourself “who am I to….?” Maybe it was a situation where you needed to take the lead, or take a stand for yourself, or ask for a promotion, or point out an issue that appears to be ignored. Do you worry people will find out you are a “fraud” and aren’t really qualified to do your job; asking yourself who am I to think I can do this?
This is likely a form of impostor syndrome which leads you to doubt your accomplishments and feel you don’t deserve your success. This is pretty common, and it can happen more often when there are institutional models of competency; such as men being better in STEM fields. This can lead to women, and minorities, feeling like they can’t succeed, don’t deserve what they earned, or will fail publicly and prove to everyone they are a fraud.
What can you do if you find yourself going down this path? Take charge of your thoughts, focus on the successes and how they will...
“Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.” Henry Ford
Right now, looking at your task list and all the things on your plate can be an invitation to overload and hopelessness. We are working from home, dealing with kids at home, spouses/ partners working from home, uncertainty in the economy, questions about whether it’s safe to go out, on and on and on. On top of everything else you have dreams and goals that are important to you. So how do you move forward? How can you make it all work? What you believe is possible will determine what you accomplish and it’s okay to not get everything done right now.
If you are confident in your abilities, you are more likely to get more things done. That confidence leads you be more positive about the impact you can have in you work and your life. In the past if you reached goals or prevailed in difficult situations you will have confidence in your ability to do it again. Past...