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There’s Nothing Wrong with a Little Bit of Swagger

I had the great honor recently of presenting to a group of amazing STEM scientists.  Not just any STEM experts, but women who lead their fields.  I was there on behalf of the Association for Women in Science to talk to them about mining their stories to share with external audiences.  I realized very quickly into my presentation that I hit a nerve with many of them that I don’t hit as often with their male counterparts.
I asked the scientists to share their expertise and put themselves out there, personally and professionally, among their peers.  The vulnerability made some of them uncomfortable and they admitted they feared the scrutiny of their scholarship.  Others embraced the chance to step out from the shadows of their male peers.
I’ve had, however, even more telling moments as I’ve followed up with each participant to ask about her areas of expertise.  In my email to each I’ve started by saying, “based on your expertise I would like to talk further.”  One participant commented that she caught herself initially responding with the following response, “’Who, me? but there are others…’ Right on the heels of that, was the Simpsons’ ‘D’oh!’”
My dream for the coming year is for faculty experts, especially female faculty experts, to embrace their scholarship and take to heart that THEY are the experts. They wouldn’t hold the prestigious positions they hold or be published in juried journals if their science wasn’t sound and they weren’t top in their fields.
So remember, when stepping out in the world have confidence in yourself and what you bring to an interview, presentation or meeting.  Sometimes a little swagger goes a long way.