Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Women's Lunch at the 2013 DPS Meeting

I recently went to the DPS (Division for Planetary Sciences) meeting in Denver, and attended the Women's Lunch organized by Kelsi Singer. Kelsi put together a terrific program centered around a workshop on leadership development.

What I liked about this lunch was that it was more than just an open-ended free-form lunch, or listening passively to some speaker. Rather, it was more of an informal workshop that got us all talking to each other in a constructive way and actively engaged us in thinking about how to better ourselves. It's not unlike the difference between traditional lecturing in classrooms versus active learning techniques that ask students to solve problems during class, come to think of it.

Kelsi's report and her slides are available here, but here are my takeaways:

Leadership can be thought of in terms of:
  • Value: Identify your strengths. This is hard for many women, including me, to articulate out loud! We tend to say "well, I'm pretty good at [skill], but [caveat]," as opposed to simply saying "I'm good at [skill]."
  • Values: Identify your priorities. Many of us have priorities within our research, as well as personal priorities completely outside of work.
  • Visibility: Sit at the table, take opportunities
  • Voice: Your physical posture makes a big difference. There are studies showing that there are physiological changes in hormone levels associated with confidence if you sit or stand in high power positions. Women are socialized to adopt low power postures, i.e. take up less space, so it's important for us to learn this.
  • Vision: What are your future plans?
All in all, it was a terrific session, and many thanks and congratulations to Kelsi Singer for putting it together!