most people assume my male colleagues
want to be physicians.
My advice: Institutions and professional
societies should hire more women in executive positions and invite more women to
be keynote speakers to reflect the number
of women in the biomedical workforce.
The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME 04609,
USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHEN I WAS in college, I was often asked,
“What do you study?” When I replied
“geology,” I would receive incredulous
stares, followed by, “Ah, theology! That
is good for a girl!”
My advice: Stand your ground and explain
exactly what you do. Do not let people
diminish you or your work.
Liane G. Benning
Helmholtz Centre Potsdam,
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences,
Telegrafenberg, 14473, Potsdam, Germany.
WHEN I WAS 6 months pregnant and
directing an archaeological project, I was
often confronted by male landowners and
village chiefs asking directions to the PI.
“You are speaking to her,” I would say. The
responses were guffaws, disbelief, and an
insistence that I didn’t understand the
question. Frustrated, each abruptly turned
away and approached my male crewmem-bers, who pointed back to me. At least one
said, “But she’s a woman.”
My advice: Rely on patience and humor,
and focus on the passion that drove you to
your discipline in the first place. Altering
a cultural habit or tradition is like shifting the tides—it takes perseverance. Over
time, your expertise and integrity in your
research will be recognized, trusted, and
respected by the local community.
Felicia Rounds Beardsley
Department of Sociology and Anthropology,
University of La Verne, La Verne, CA 91750, USA.
I WAS THE invited speaker at a meeting.
When I arrived, the organizer told me that
I could set up the coffee and snacks on the
My advice: Organizations and professional
societies need to be mindful of including
scientists of all races, genders, and ages.
The more people see diversity, the more
“normal” it becomes!
Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology
(IRIS), Washington, DC 20005, USA.
6 JANUARY 2017 • VOL 355 ISSUE 6320 23 SCIENCE sciencemag.org
I AM A MUSLIM who wears a niqab that
covers my face. My niqab doesn’t prevent
me from doing or teaching science. Still,
even in a Muslim country like Egypt, I was
forbidden from teaching an international
program because of my religious clothing.
My advice: Institutions and professional
societies should make clear that researchers have the right to follow their religious
traditions, as long as those traditions do
not prevent the researchers from doing
Basant A. Ali
Department of Chemistry, Alexandria University,
A FEW DAYS after September 11th, 2001,
I was walking around the campus of the
University of Michigan and a woman yelled
out, “I know you bombed us!” Until that
moment, I had not realized my brown skin
and goatee might cause someone to think of
me as a terrorist threat. I was devastated.
My advice: We all need to work to make
academic settings safe for people of all
sexes and races.
Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State
University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.
MY SUPERVISOR MADE no effort to hide
her resentment of my abaya and headscarf.
I ignored her insulting comments and kept
it on. I was the only student in a headscarf
attending her classes. I was proud to see
that my refusal to back down paved the
way for others.
My advice: Try your best not to succumb
to pressure. Be aware of your rights and
what to do if they are violated. Universities
should provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment.
AS AN INTERNATIONAL student from India,
people assumed that my spoken language
would be atrocious and that I would be able
to handle everything technical/IT related.
My advice: Develop patience and a dry sense
Naga Rama Kothapalli
Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry,
University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA.
AS A YOUNG international student with
limited English, I could see people slowly
disconnect from me while I was talking,
avoid me, or act as if I could not do anything
on my own. I was not sure how to react.
I needed a little extra help but I did not
want preferential treatment.
My advice: Students and professors should
talk to international students directly.
Universities should educate the campus
community about how to interact with
international students and where to direct
them for help.
School of the Environment, Washington State
University, Vancouver, WA 98686, USA.
I WAS ONCE told by a member of my lab
that PCR stands for Puertorricans Can’t
make the Reaction. Everybody laughed,
even me, but now I can see how inappropriate that comment was.
My advice: Every semester, departments
should invite speakers from all backgrounds, especially first-generation
scientists. In addition to science, speakers
should address gender equity, unconscious
bias, and cultural sensitivity.
University of Puerto Rico- Humacao, Humacao,
PR 792, USA.
DROP OUT OF a graduate program and it
will haunt your career like a felony conviction. Despite the prejudice I’ve faced
for lacking a graduate degree, I have built
a career over many years that matches
the success of many of my colleagues
who completed graduate programs. We
express concern over the lack of public engagement in science, yet feel free
to excoriate fellow scientists who lack
advanced degrees. We need to embrace
our own diversity.
My advice: Always be the best-prepared
person in the room.
Robert L. Martone
Memphis, TN 38103, USA.
I HAVE FOUND that people tend to
prejudge research quality based on the
My advice: For those judging, focus more
on the research itself rather than the
rank of the researchers’ institutions. For
those being judged, high-quality research
products are the most powerful rebuttal
to affiliation prejudgment.
School of Mechanical Engineering, Nanyang
Technological University, Singapore, 639798,