Demanding Attention : Tiny Scientist with Voice.

Hello Readers! I’ve had a few busy weeks recently and fell behind on my blog posts. I’m in the process of packing my things to move to self storage as the tenancy at my current flat is approaching the end. There are a few days in between moving out and moving into the new place, so there is a bit of hassle. But hey, here’s to student/adult life!  In the interval, I’ll be taking a holiday break!! Anyways, onto the content!

I’ve been thinking of writing about the personalities suited to science research and whether there are indeed preferable ones. As I’d like to do some a little research on the topic before officially posting about it, I’ll only begin by covering it narrowly here. Is there any thing I’ve changed about my personality recently after starting my PhD/ DPhil? Is there one trait that I find essential now? The answer is yes.

I am  small in stature  and generally a soft spoken person. And although I am approaching my mid-twenties, I look younger than the wise years behind me 😉 . For the field I am in, the predominance of men, especially older ones in authority, can make the environment somewhat intimidating. I sometimes wonder if I am perceived as too young and insignificant, not demanding of attention and therefore not a ‘good’ scientist. That last statement calls for another definitive blog post on its own!

I was reading on another blog a while back of a similar experience of a female professor. I wish I could remember the blog name right now. In short, she wrote that being small and having a youthful appearance made her have to work harder to be respected by both students and colleagues. She recommended that to compensate for her small size, she would sit to take up more space during meetings or conferences by putting an arm over the back of a chair. It sounds silly, but I think she is onto something.

I can relate to her. Taking up less space and speaking softly has its disadvantages in the modern scientific community, where communication, collaboration and confidence are valued. To be heard and to be taken seriously, I have to speak up. I have to present myself confidently because this will inevitably be associated with my ability. So I have to consciously make an effort to speak louder, stand taller and sit broader. This in turn does not only increases visibility to others, but loops back to improving faith in yourself.

If it’s in your mind that you are inferior, then others will pick up on this and perhaps cement their bias, if they already have one.  So my advise, to myself and anyone who can relate, is to demand attention.  Demand to be taken seriously by your peers and those in a higher position to you. This way they’ll remember you. A scientist needs a voice.


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