The Women in STEM Society of the University of Adelaide invited me to give a talk to its members last week. In light of self-care, I carefully made sure that I wasn’t over-stretching my commitments to the point that I had to sacrifice any more sleep. Healthy boundaries also mean being able to say ‘no’. Still, this was a nice opportunity to reach out and share my research without it being in the context of my PhD program. The audience would be comprised mostly of students and volunteers. In a way, it felt really nice to give a talk without the feeling of receiving ‘payment’ for it, whether in terms of professional networks or even receiving any hours of credit for it towards my degree.
I’ve also found that speaking to other people outside my field allowed for a fresh perspective on my research topic. My topic investigates social identity and leadership, particularly for women. What was uniquely helpful in this instance was that the event allowed me to engage and discuss my research with women from the next generation. I was able to listen as they talked about their own experiences, their perspectives of the problem, and discuss their opinion of what the future agenda for research should be. Their input has given me the opportunity to think about my work in a different light, which ultimately will enrich my research.
The entire experience was not only enlightening in an academic sense but left me feeling very positive. It made me feel that my research was contributing to something bigger than just writing a thesis. The experience also provided me with renewed motivation to keep plugging away with my work.
‘Ember will be speaking about an individual’s power to break stereotypes and how this helped her navigate through a turbulent science career that successfully resulted in an enriched and fulfilling professional life. She will also discuss findings from psychological research on social identity and leadership, and how this can be applied in the context of competitive STEM fields. Look forward to hearing all about her adventures in various countries and working in male-dominated teams. Her interactive talk will include some pretty cool photos and tons of inspiration to show that a STEM career is for anyone and everyone willing to dive deep.’