A talk in disguise

– written by Synapse –

My voice drops an octave when I give a talk.

I don’t joke.

I wear a little bit of makeup… but not too much.

I dress up a bit… but not too much.

I straighten my crazy curls but pull it back just enough so I don’t make the mistake of “tossing” my hair.

I wear heels to grow a few more inches.

I wear my glasses.

Every time I go to a meeting or give a talk, I am very VERY self aware of my appearance, my mannerisms, my voice. But I’m not a newbie.  Most of the audience at meetings I attend are colleagues who are familiar with my research. Even in an unfamiliar setting, I should have a quite confidence knowing that I am published and my CV is quite respectable (if I do say so myself!)

And yet I always find myself worrying about seeming “too young” and inexperienced because I am female.  A small, young looking female.  But shouldn’t the research that I am presenting and the research that I have published speak for itself?

Do guys ever feel this way?  Why does it seem like those with male parts can get away with looking like they just rolled out of bed when they show up for a talk?  Cracking jokes that usually aren’t very good (c’mon, we’re scientists) without everyone in the audience tuning out the rest of the presentation.  Are they simply oblivious?  Do they not care what people think about them?  Or are they simply not being judged the same way we are as women?

But who in the audience is really judging us?

More importantly, are we just as likely to unfairly judge our fellow female scientists as the 80-year old white man next to us?

And now I have to admit something.

YES, I have judged.  I have subconsciously rolled my eyes at bad jokes and tuned out “unprofessional” talks given by someone with boobs. Can I blame deep-rooted biases?  Or am I just a bitch?

I know.  I need to work on this.  And I am guessing that you do too.

In the meantime, I will drop my voice and cut my jokes, do my hair and makeup just enough and ditch my contacts for the day so that I can appeal more professional to the “me’s” in the audience.


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