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Building Self Confidence Carla Brodley Tufts University CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop April 2011 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Building Self Confidence Carla Brodley Tufts University CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop April 2011 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Building Self Confidence Carla Brodley Tufts University CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop April

2 Academic History Started graduate school, UMASS…………….Fall 1988 Ph.D. awarded………………………………….Aug 1994 Started as Assistant Professor, Purdue….….Nov 1994 Promoted to Assoc. Prof. w/ tenure ………Spring 2000 Started as a Full Professor, Tufts..………..…Fall 2004 Department Chair, Tufts……………………….Fall 2010

3 Confidence-Level History Progress through my PhD Confidence Level First exam in a grad course After 1 semester with my 1 st advisor 1 st paper accepted 2 nd 3 rd papers were rejected First journal acceptance Joining new research group Admitted to grad school Failing my theory comp

4 How self confident are you? Do what you believe to be right, even if criticized for it Willing to take risks Admit your mistakes and learn from them Wait for others to congratulate you Accept compliments graciously. Thanks, I really worked hard on that paper. Govern your behavior based on what others think Stay in your comfort zone Work hard to cover up your mistakes Extol your virtues as often and to as many as possible Dismiss compliments offhandedly. Oh that paper was nothing really, anyone could have done it. High Self Confidence Low Self Confidence

5 Take this online quiz How self confident are you ?

6 The imposter syndrome Regardless of success achieved or proof of competence, you are sometimes convinced that you do not deserve it –Proof is dismissed as luck, timing, or a result of deceiving others –Common among successful women and typically associated with academics –Widely found among graduate students and first generation college students

7 Research on self-confidence and performance w.r.t. to stereotypes Stereotype threat and intellectual performance –Two tests of Sophmores who think they are good at math using the GRE questions Exp. 1: subjects were told that males do better than females Exp. 2: subjects were told that there is no gender difference in performance –Result: Females performance equal to male in Exp. 2 but significantly worse in Exp. 1 (Claude Steele, American Psychologist, 1997)

8 Balancing self confidence Under-confident: youll avoid taking risks and stretching yourself – you might not even try at all Over-confident: you may take on too much risk, stretch yourself beyond your capabilities and fail

9 The good news is that self confidence can be learned and built on.

10 Stories from my female students Is this really worth doing? –Paper rejection in the face of intellectually understanding low accept rates I dont understand, but everyone else does –Attending your first conference My math is not as good as everyone elses –In comparing oneself to ECE students

11 Stories from my female students Low-confidence moments –Taking your class. I was sure you would fire me despite your reassurances –Paper rejection Turning points: –First summer when I delved into research and had results –Realizing my strengths – better than average writer Advice: –They let me in for a reason –What are my contributions to the group – I may not be the smartest, but I can do X, Y, Z

12 Stories from my female students Low-confidence moments –First paper rejection –Taking computer architecture, prof and projects –Being stuck in my research Coping strategies: –Knowing that females struggle with confidence, that I am not the only one feeling this way and probably deserve more credit than I am giving myself –Not dwelling on what I am not good at – just do the best I can do –Having a mentor that give sensible advice and supportive peers

13 Stories from my female students Low-confidence moments –Paper rejection/grants rejected –Going on sabbatical at lab Top-ranked University X with Super-duper-smart Prof Y Coping mechanism: –Papers do get accepted eventually/same with grants –There will always be people smarter than I. All I can do is my best. And Super-duper-smart Prof Y wanted to work with me


15 #1: Admit the problem Take stock of where you are, think about where you want to go, and recommit yourself to getting there. Remember that no one is perfect. Even the most confident people have insecurities. Accept that life is full of bumps down the road and have faith that things will be better tomorrow.

16 #2: Find support Find someone safe you can talk frankly to –Make sure they are people you trust and who wont judge you in the future based on your current state of self confidence Surround yourself with nurturing friends. Watch out for those who lower the confidence of others to compensate for their own confidence issues Be sure to be there to support others when they need it

17 #3: Establish reachable goals Make a list of things that will get you moving towards your PhD goals Identify the first small step needed to accomplish each item on the list and have a plan for making that first step –For that rejected paper, let the review age for a short while. Then, ask yourself what was good about the paper and what needs improved. Develop a plan for revisions and resubmission.

18 #4: Recognize your successes Try to avoid fixating on your failures Make a list of your recent successes, then read the list (out loud if necessary) back to yourself –Think about your strengths and what youve achieved so far. Give yourself permission to take pride in those achievements –Be realistic, but dont leave it blank

19 #5: Take a break Take some time off to refresh, reflect, and enjoy –Find time to exercise regularly – go for a run, hike, swim, … –Have a nice meal with friends/loved ones –Go shopping – buy that pair of shoes youve been wanting, that tennis racket, … –Splurge for wash-dry-fold….

20 #6: Beware of the triple low 1.Your experimental results dont support that hypothesis you were so hyped about; your paper was just rejected; … 2.You just saw that man you have such a crush on with another woman; you and your partner had a slamming-door fight this morning; … 3.You forgot your sisters birthday yesterday because of a class project deadline….

21 #7: Fake it till you make it Speak slowly and clearly –A person who thinks they arent worth listening to will often speak quickly and/or softly Stand tall –Dont slouch, dont walk around with your head held low Accept greetings and complements gracefully –When asked how you are doing, say with enthusiasm Just great. Dont roll your eyes, groan, and say Im just swamped.

22 #8: Be extra prepared Go the extra mile to be prepared –Study hard for that exam –Spend more time in the lab running those additional experiments –Prepare a few slides for the next group meeting –Write, rewrite, rewrite that paper –Practice that talk again and again – in front of friends and not-so-friends Just beware of perfectionism (or you will never finish)

23 #9: Take a risk a day Challenge yourself everyday –Dont be afraid to push yourself, a little bit of pressure is good for you Make it a habit

24 #10: Stick to your principles Know your principles –Live the Golden Rule –Live your passion –Pay it forward Then actually live them If you dont have something you believe in, you dont have anything.

25 Self confident language I think this might be the correct algorithm I have an idea what the correct algorithm might be I have an idea about the correct algorithm This is the correct algorithm, let me show you This is the correct algorithm

26 In closing … Believe in yourself No one will believe in you until you believe in yourself Think about what is important to you and where you want to go … and then go for it ! And, smile often

27 Credits CRA-Women (especially Carole-Jean Wu, Esin Saka, Maria Klawe, Mary Jane Irwin) presenters at previous grad cohort workshops My wonderful advisor, Paul Utgoff, and my female graduate students Various web sites –wikiHow: How to Build Self Confidence –MindTools: Building Self-Confidence –25 Killer Actions to Boost Your Self-Confidence confidence/ confidence/

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