Guest Post: The burden of representing a demographic

Ah, that unpleasant feeling :-/ I could have done without the added pressure of being the only woman in my Controls course, the only female TA for multiple courses, the only woman in the room while teaching labs and office hours full of young men, the only woman in my lab for multiple semesters, etc. You try not to notice that you’re the Only One but it’s so hard to not let it get to you and become convinced that you must be Perfect in order to not let down your entire gender (or other underrepresented demographic)… 

To be honest, I really don’t know what a good solution to this problem would be other than just promoting more underrepresented folks in the fields in which they are underrepresented so there’s actually a feeling that one doesn’t NEED to be the lone, perfect representative.

An excellent post the pressures that accompany being the lone representative of one’s demographic on Tenure, She Wrote:

Tenure, She Wrote

Today’s guest post was contributed by SweetScience, a postdoc who also blogs at “A Portrait of the Scientist As a Young Woman


I am incredibly proud to be a woman in science, to be a role model for other women and girls, and to hopefully push some of the barriers that still exist for women advancing in academia. But sometimes this can feel like an incredible amount of pressure to succeed, to show the world that I, one woman, can be great, somehow demonstrating that all women can be too. Let’s be honest – I’m not always great.

When I was interviewing for postdoc positions I had a particular experience where I really discovered this feeling. This interview was two days long and on the first day I gave my research talk. I dressed in a skirt suit and tried to be very professional. I am generally a…

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One thought on “Guest Post: The burden of representing a demographic

  1. I love this line:

    “However, I will not give up my personal goals in order to change an image – and this is largely because the image doesn’t need to be changed, people’s perceptions are what need to change.”

    My wife and I agree: if you want some task done, give it to the busiest person. I can’t think of anyone I’d trust more to get something done and done well than someone–male or female!–who wants to raise (or is raising) kids.

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