Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The new girls' network

It's been quiet on the blog here, and my excuse is that I've been busy with travel recently. I'm on an 8-day tour of the Bay Area, giving three seminar-length talks and one 20-minute conference talk while I'm here.

I'm following a piece of advice I picked up in grad school: whenever you get the opportunity to give a talk somewhere, do it. It will increase your exposure, and even if they aren't hiring at the time, it will still help you establish connections and share your science with people. So, while my original purpose in coming here was for this conference at the end of the week, I managed to work my network to score speaking gigs at three different institutions in the area.

The interesting thing is that most of my network is women.

My first talk was arranged mostly through a grad student friend at her university.

For the second talk, I got in touch with people I knew there and basically bugged them until they gave in. In this case, my contacts were mostly men, actually.

At the AAS Meeting in January, I ran into a friend of mine and mentioned that I would be in the area, and she invited me to come by her institution and give a talk there, all of which she handily arranged for me.

My friends largely work in completely different areas than I do, so I'm all the more appreciative that they helped arrange my visits. There might be something in there about those of us in the minority sticking up for one another, but there's more to it than that. There's true friendship and camaraderie that I'm drawing on here, and maybe it's simply the way we women tend to relate to each other.

Anyway, the moral of the story is to never underestimate the value of networking, and that that includes friendships with your peers as well as schmoozing with people in high places.

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