As women, we need to work against the gender bias. One of the key aspects of getting ahead in the workplace is to be recognised as an authority in our field. There are a number of ways to do this. Here are our key recommendations.
1. Write a book
The definition of somebody who is an authority on a subject is that they are an author on the subject. So become an author. Does that sound a little crazy to you? Well, put ‘crazy’ aside and put it firmly on your ‘to-do’ list. I wrote one book (a very small one!) in the evenings when my children were small. We didn’t have a television and we lived in a small village where there wasn’t much to do in the evenings. So I took advantage of the quiet evenings and focused on writing a short book on Irish insects. How did I become published? I found a series of small books on Irish wildflowers and birds and thought butterflies would fit very well in this series. I approached the publisher with a pitch and they said ‘yes’. So I had my opportunity, I had the time (quiet evenings) and the kitchen table became my office in the evening.
2. Give a TED or TEDx talk
Having an online video of you is another way to develop authority. Google searches now show videos at the top of the search page and people recognise this as evidence of authority. So any online talk is valuable - particularly if it shows you talking at a conference or an event. However, the ultimate is a TED or TEDx talk. How do you achieve this goal? Firstly look for any conferences or events where they will be videoing the talks. Approach them and offer to speak on your specialist topic (come up with a catchy title to pitch). Search out upcoming TEDx talks in your region and put yourself forward.
3. Author scientific papers
One of the career currencies in science is publishing papers. Writing and publishing papers can be a very time-consuming process - in fact, writing and publishing a book (in my experience) can be faster! But a reference list of your papers is an important addition to your resume and shows that you are an authority and have credibility. If you don’t have any papers to your name, you might be asking yourself ‘where to start with my first paper?’ Can you publish your degree thesis? Have you been involved in any research that either you could publish or you could offer to help write up as a paper? Importantly, seek out help in writing it - ask a mentor for advice and read a book such as Successful Scientific Writing: A Step-by-Step Guide for the Biological and Medical Sciences Writing papers can be a challenge but they are rewarding, impactful, and boost your resume.
4. Write newspaper articles
Gosh - the recognition that I received after writing a piece for The Irish Times. The recognition from colleagues, friends, and family. It appears that for some people, having a published article in a respected newspaper is the ultimate proof of authority on a subject. And a newspaper article is much shorter than a book! You’ll need to hone your writing and produce a well-written, interesting, and accessible piece but we know that you can do it :-) Then it’s a matter of approaching the write editor and submitting your piece. A key piece of advice: Be tenacious! If your first article isn’t accepted, write more articles. If you don’t get a response from an editor, try a different editor or a different newspaper. But don’t give up until you are published. Oh and, remember, to ask to be paid too!
5. Join a professional organisation
There are many professional organisations that you can join including the CIEEM, IAIA, British Ecological Society, Royal Entomological Society and so on. Research the one that is most suitable to your career goals. You’ll gain many advantages from joining one of these organisations including access to training, networking, and more to add to your cv. Also, once you join, consider volunteering for a committee or expert group. Organisations are always looking for volunteers to help on various committees and, in return, being on a committee can help you develop relationships with key influencers, gain an insight into an area, and build your confidence.
All in all, achieving one or all of these goals can make a significant impact on your career. They are also great for building your confidence. When criticism comes your way (as it inevitably does), you have concrete evidence of your ability to refer back to. Nobody can argue about your professional integrity when you have concrete achievements to point to. So now it’s over to you. Choose one of the above and start taking action. Go for it, wonder woman - we know that you can do it :-)
We Are All Wonder Women is an international movement for female conservation professionals to be inspired, connected, and empowered to create an authentic, fulfilling and happy career.