Over coffee with one of my academically-inclined friends recently, we wound up comparing notes on advice that professors had given to us.
She said that one of her professors told her not to be the “baking lady” or “mom” who brings cookies to every lab meeting, particularly because she is entering a rather male-dominated career.
I told her that one of my professors told me not to be the “typing lady” or “secretary” on an otherwise all-male conference planning committee.
We also talked about the split responsibility we feel to family and social responsibilities against grad school and academic goals (although you can just as easily reword that to read social goals and academic responsibilities – I was simply going for the parallel sentence structure with unique nouns).
It reminded me of some tips I learned with my [it’s a] wonderful life coach, Lorna. One of the excellent new practices I took away from life coaching was to count to three before agreeing (or disagreeing) to do anything. For example, if someone asks me to do something, I know that I should take a deep breath, count to three in my head, and respond with a “No, thanks” or “Let me check my calendar.” I can always say “Sure!” later, rather than back-peddling on an initial agreement that was ill-advised.
From what I have heard in teacher’s college and professional development seminars, this is an incredibly useful tool for teachers and professors early in their careers, when people are trying to find help for various teams / committees / unpaid departmental duties / volunteer activities, and so forth.
However, this seems like a great idea for over-extended people everywhere! And it might be one way to keep yourself from being the “baking lady” or the “typing lady.”
I would add that there’s nothing wrong with baking or typing! I’m doing both of them right now and having a fine time. :-)
Addendum: on the other hand, sometimes it would be nice to have female representation of any sort, even if it could be considered tokenism.