If you followed the recent haps at ScienceOnline 2011, you’ve no doubt heard about the hush that fell over meeting room B when Ed Yong dropped a bomb at the Perils of blogging as a woman under a real name session. Ed remarked that while he gets plenty of direct messages on Twitter from men who hope he’ll pass on word of their latest blog post, not a single female writer had ever asked him to promote one of their pieces. WTF, ladies? This gender discrepancy in self-promotion reaches far beyond the world of blogging—in many professional realms, women just don’t ask for things as much as men do. But why?
The answer is of course incredibly complicated, and is discussed beautifully by Kate Clancy (and her commenters) over at Context and Variation. It's an issue that's been on my mind lately, even before Ed's now legendary words were uttered. But rather than write a lesser post that (let's be honest) mostly reiterates Kate's many excellent points, I thought I’d write a lesser post that describes what I have been doing to promote myself.
My sister lives in a part of the country that has several Big Research Institutions within an hour or two’s drive, and when I made plans to visit her, it occurred to me that I had some semi-peeps at those BRIs. Why not get in touch? I thought. I wrote to two faculty dudes--one, a brand new asst prof whom I'd met through a friend at SfN and whose interests overlap lots with my own, and two, a more established prof running a big-ish lab whom I've met at several meetings over the past year.
I dropped each a casual note mentioning that I'd be in the area, and that it would be great to see them if possible. Both immediately responded, and invited me to their respective BRIs to give a talk to their department. Seriously, it was that easy.
My trip, then, was both business and pleasure, and I hope it comes as no surprise to you to hear that the business side was also quite pleasurable! I had great visits at both BRIs--I got to meet lots of new people, practice my job talk, get oodles of good TT-search advice from the faculty types I met, and--most importantly--promote the shit out of myself and my research. It was nice being able to do all that without the stress and pressure of being at a faculty interview, too; just one scientist, visiting some other scientists and talking about science. And really, aside from the DataRush™, isn't that why we're in this game?
If you have the opportunity to go on a self-promotion tour of your own, I highly recommend it. Hell, you know what? I highly demand it. Until we're at the point where people are banging down our doors and flooding our inboxes with seminar invites, it is our job to make people know who we are, and that is simply not going to happen from our pubs and conference posters alone. Get out there and tell everyone how awesome you are!
(And, uh, please don't make too much fun of the crappy tour poster I put together in like 5 min on PowerPoint)