Sunday, October 12, 2008

ICWIP: Day 2.5

Thursday night was the conference banquet. Interestingly, the food was entirely Western cuisine, but the entertainment was traditional Korean dances. I was pleased that there were male dancers as well as female dancers. All too often, only female dancers are featured, so perhaps it was only appropriate that they would have mixed-gender dances for a women-in-physics conference.

There were a number of dignitaries who spoke at the beginning of the meal, including the deputy mayor of Seoul and the chair of the Korean Physical Society and whatnot. But then, it seemed to transition over to some kind of open-mike session, where anyone who felt like they had something heartwarming to say, got up and did so. This went on for almost the entire meal.

Now, the best parts of any conference are the interactions that take place outside the planned sessions, and this conference was no exception. After the dinner, several of us Americans recruited a few locals to take us to enjoy the nightlife in Seoul. By the end, I had swapped some important career advice with some of them. My personal take-home message from this meeting is to stop underestimating myself. For myself and many other women in science, the biggest obstacle is simply ourselves and the fear that we might be revealed as imposters despite our obvious successes. Seeing so many successful women physicists from around the globe and hearing their stories was certainly very empowering.

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