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Saying 'When' and Building Support

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When Mary Lidstrom spoke with Genome Technology's Matthew Dublin about her lab, she also shared some advice for women in science.

I always felt being female was to my advantage, because I was more easily remembered. I was able to ignore or circumvent any obvious hostility so that didn't impede me. However, I do feel there are still significant gender issues.

My advice would be two-fold: 1) To learn when to say no. A major problem with all junior faculty, but in my experience more prevalent with female faculty, is the tendency to want to help out everywhere, especially with students, and become over-committed. Junior faculty must learn to balance their time well. When in doubt, seek advice from a senior faculty member about whether or not to accept an invitation or accept a request when the time commitment is high.

2) Build a support group with other female faculty who have similar lifestyle issues. Being able to share concerns about balancing family and career, for instance, is very helpful. Alternatively, being able to share concerns about not having a family, or pursuing a serious hobby, is also very helpful. Find a support group and take advantage of their assistance and experience. Most female faculty are very willing to take time to help other female faculty.

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