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confidence and science

Sarah Tilley sjt at newt.phys.unsw.edu.au
Wed Jul 20 19:35:05 EST 1994


I am just in my second year of grad school, and can identify with the 
lack of confidence that I see people displaying here. I graduated just
over 3 years ago, and took a break before starting my graduate studies.
One of those reasons was that I wanted to work overseas (I am english),
which took some arranging, but the other was the 'can I do it?' 
question. Not only was I not quite sure which particular field I was
interested in, but having seen friends (male and female) talk about
their work with confidence, I doubted that I could ever be the same.
What devise experiments? Without guidance? Think on my own? Deduce
results? All these things and more made me worry whether I was doing the
right thing. Well, the confidence came with experience. As I showed
myself that I could think for myself, and produce ideas, the 
confidence developed nicely. It helps having a supervisor who doesn't
knock my ideas, even when they are silly (and that does happen!), who
is, for the record, male. Reading this news group, I think I have been
lucky, as I am not aware of any hostility towards me, as a woman, in my
career so far. I have always been encouraged, and most of my teachers
were male. 

Don't get me wrong...I don't find grad studies easy. I feel that it will
be worth the time and energy when I finish. I have survived my first 
major crisis, where I wanted to give it all up and go and get a job.
According to my pals, that ain't unusual. I think that it has also lost
its spark for me, but that doesn't mean that I can't still do good research.

Best of luck
Sarah Tilley
sjt at newt.phys.unsw.edu.au

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