Author Archives: Addie

Next workshop: Body Language and Public Speaking

We’re hosting a workshop this week, “Body Language and Public Speaking,” on Thursday, April 16 from 12:30-1:30 pm in CHB 439. The workshop is hosted by Monica Cortes Viharo, an actor and PhD student in the Drama department.  She will focus on ways to use your body as a better instrument for communication, as well as public speaking fears, body language, and the qualities of a strong speaker.  Get ready to prepare for your next academic presentation or job interview!  And come hungry, because there will be free pizza!!


Talking While Female

You may remember a piece WCS-UW posted a while ago about uptalk and how men and women use it differently (link here).

To further that conversation, I’d like to introduce you to a piece that NPR recently published about which types of voices and speaking styles are perceived as more competent.  In addition to uptalk, the article talks about higher registers, vocal fry, and other factors that can make a woman sound less authoritative.  You can find the full article here.

What do you guys think?  Would you try to change the sound of your voice to make colleagues take you more seriously?


Life lessons from Justice Sonia Sotomayor

By Joan Bleecker


UW offers its students amazing opportunities to meet professional women who are making a difference in the nation and the world. Last November, Women in the Chemical Sciences invited Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy of “Power Pose” fame. This March, Undergraduate Academic Affairs hosted sitting Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The format of the event was question and answer. Students submitted questions online which UW Provost Ana Mari Cauce read to the Justice. Unexpectedly, Justice Sotomayor asked each student who wrote a question to stand up so she could greet each by name, thank him/her, and gather all for a group photo. You could tell the organizers were caught off guard by this, but the Justice seemed un-phased. It was inspiring to see her break protocol and connect with her audience. It made me think of how often I stick to the script and do what’s expected of me, even if it means sacrificing meaningful interactions.

I was also struck by how Justice Sotomayor paused after each question, sometimes for quite a long time, to think about her response. Even though video cameras and thousands of eyes were focused on her, she was not rushed or ruffled. Accordingly, almost everything she said was quotable. (I was scribbling fairly furiously trying to take down my favorite ones).

Justice Sotomayor admitted she is her own worst critic. “You don’t judge me, I judge me.” This belief has helped her dismiss outside criticism, including criticism leveled by U. S. Senators at her confirmation hearings, who said she was not intelligent enough for the position, and a time when a court employee called her “honey”. She politely told him it was “Justice”.

Though loath to give advice, Justice Sotomayer shared some great insights. She emphasized the importance of community and connecting with others, admitting “I didn’t make it to where I am by myself.” She spoke about how important her grandmother’s unconditional love and care were to her growing up saying “You need someone to talk to who can comfort and help you.”

As a women and Latina in high office, she received many questions about how minorities can move up in society. One of her more blunt answers was “make money”, but overall her message went beyond race or gender to what makes life fulfilling, “The greatest contribution you can make to the world is figuring out what you think is important to you. What kind of work is meaningful? What are you good at?” She emphasized that you didn’t have to be a Supreme Court justice or a community leader, but you must “…think outside of your own needs to look around and say, there is this little piece of my world that I want to make a difference in.” She also admitted “I cannot guarantee outcomes. No one can. The frustrations with that are sometimes the most difficult to deal with.” She admitted it was about “moving a mountain an inch at a time” and in spite of adversity there is always hope.

When asked what made her a great leader, she said she never meant to be a leader, but “if you have enough strength of character you can convince others to join you.” She also talked about being in power, “The thing you learn about power is that it’s shared,” and, “Power can corrupt. I watch it and I know it can make you full of yourself if you let it. And I’m trying to work very, very hard to always remember that I didn’t get to where I got by myself. And I tell my friends I made a very thick book [My Beloved World] so that when they think I’m getting conceited, they’ll hit me over the head with it.”

Sometimes being a woman in a “male” profession feels like facing an uphill battle. At such moments I can recall Justice Sotomayor’s core principles: I can answer demands on me at my own pace, take advantage of the care, concern, and knowledge of those who support me, and know it is not the magnitude or notoriety of what I choose to do but the meaning of the change I can make in the world that counts.

Member Meeting

We will hold a meeting for all those interested:

TUESDAY, January 14th
at 4:30 pm
in BAG 319 (inside the Theory Suite)

Items on the agenda include new outreach opportunities, prospective speakers and other exciting news from the graduate school.  We are looking forward to seeing everyone as we head into 2014.

As always, if you cannot attend but have something you would like to share with the group, please let us know!

See you next week!

Men and Women Use Uptalk Differently: A Sociological Study

You might not know uptalk by its definition, but you likely know what it is:  the rising intonation that you would put at the end of a sentence as if you were answering a question.  You probably also wouldn’t be surprised to find that men and women use uptalk very differently.

Thomas J. Linneman performed a study analyzing the use of uptalk in the game show Jeopardy! and the results are quite interesting.  You can read a summary of the study here or the full research article here.

I think the most interesting conclusion of the study is that women use uptalk more frequently as they were more successful on the show, causing them “to appear uncertain of their knowledge and apologetic for their success.”  I wonder how this relates to imposter syndrome, and if we graduate students do this more than the average person.

What do you guys think?  How do you use uptalk?

Pregnancy During Graduate School, a workshop and discussion

Yesterday, Shoshanna Barnett hosted a workshop on pregnancy during graduate school at the University of Washington.  We discussed some of the more common issues that you might expect (what concerns should lab workers have if they are expecting?) as well as some that were surprising (did you know UW doesn’t have a policy in place for maternity leave for its graduate students?).

Shoshanna brought up many good points, including a discussion on the predominant cultural idea within science that graduate students should wait until after our degrees to start families.  How does this idea affect us and how does it lead to hidden sexism within our workplace?

This was a very valuable workshop for those who are considering families but also for those who are not, but want to support gender equality in the workplace through both policy and attitudes.  Thanks, Shoshanna!


Amy Cuddy Round-Table and Lecture

Women in Chemical Science was excited to host visiting lecturer Amy Cuddy last Wednesday, November the 13th.  We started off our time with her having a round-table discussion about being in graduate school.  Amy listened to us talk about our unique takes on graduate school and gave us advice on giving lectures, taking second year exams, and managing in a field full of dominant personalities.

Later that evening, we met for a private reception where we all mingled with the Graduate School, who were fundamental in organizing this event.  Finally, we sat down to watch Amy’s lecture Connect, Then Lead.  Amy discussed the importance of interpersonal warmth in addition to (and oftentimes ahead of) competence as a necessary tool for leadership.  She also summarized her TED talk (found here) and discussed the many responses she’s received on it.  Of course, being a horse person, my favorite story would be how a horse trainer used power posing to bring out the confidence in a horse named Vafi!  (Check it out here!)

Thank you Amy Cuddy for an unforgettable day!  Many of us agreed: it was one of the best days ever!