Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Just a Whisper

My senior year in college I was selected to be on the Faculty Review Committee, the committee responsible for evaluating faculty performance and making tenure/promotion recommendations to the Dean.  There were only two students selected to be on the committee each year, so the fact that I was chosen was a huge honor.

What made my service on this committee remarkable, however, was not my status as "one of two students"...it was my status as "only female...period." 

Shortly after my initial meeting with the committee, one of the veteran committee members pulled me aside in the library to pass on some of the best advice I've received in my life.  She said...

In the course of working with this group you're going to say something...and it will be smart and on-point and exactly right....and not one of those guys will acknowledge that you've spoken.  Later, one of them will say the exact same thing that you said before, and everyone is going to react and agree.  Please don't be upset by this!  The role you're playing is very important and necessary for the group.  Think of it as whispering in their ear...  You may not get public credit for what you've said, but you need to know that you're absolutely making a difference.

In that committee, and in more than one of the many (many!!) committees that have followed since then, her advice saved me from frustration.  Like anyone, I appreciate being acknowledged for the work that I'm doing, of course, but sometimes my job is to whisper....and wait.


MBF said...

Ahhhh, so this is why it was so fresh in your mind when we talked about it over dinner 2 weeks ago!!!

MBF said...

And I still marvel that you've found comfort in those words of advice...I struggle with the idiocy of the fools that don't listen to me. I'd rather make a difference by boxing their ears until they paid attention to me. But that's just me. :)