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I recently met with a (very successful) female mentee who was struggling to balance her research, clinical, & administrative obligations.

I quickly realized, in listening to her, that she was in a no-win situation.
1) She had been set up to fail.
* She had inadequate support for her research program
* She had inadequate support for her administrative duties
* She was being asked to spend much more time on clinical & admin than her grants allowed her to do
2) So, giving her advice was easy:
* Ask for more support - you need staff, you shouldn't go to all those meetings, you deserve a pay-raise given the amount that you're working.
* Don't do those admin tasks that they could hire someone else to do.
* Insist on your value.
3) But then I realized : in addition to these structural issues that would challenge anyone, she was being handed tasks that were the equivalent of "making coffee for her group".

And being told that this was her job. And purposefully NOT being given room to ask for things.
It's worth noting, here, that she is a young-looking woman (.... who could knock the socks off many late-career men, in terms of her grant / publication / clinical productivity.)
It's also worth noting, here, that I --- and many other mid- or senior-career women --- hear these types of stories ALL. THE. TIME.
4) So. We had to have a different discussion:
* About not worrying too much about upsetting people.
* About asking for what you need, because otherwise you will burn out or leave.
* About calling on your sponsors/mentors - people like me - to advocate FOR you, if you're scared
5) To be honest, if I think about my own life, I have been her - many, many times.

I can think about how many times my own mentors have told me this, and how I (very often) STILL struggle with these precepts.
6) There's a wonderful book, that @AveryWGardiner recommended to me, called "The Power."

And in it, a woman (Margot) has a moment where she thinks "this is what it's like to be a guy - to not be scared."

(littlebrown.com/titles/naomi-a… - highly recommend!)
7) So just for a second, I asked her - and I ask myself, and you:

Can you imagine?

What if we owned our power? Knew that we were adequate? Asked for what we need and desire and deserve? Stopped being afraid?

Imagine what we could do.
8) So what are you waiting for?

Don't be scared.
Go ask for it.
Push beyond what you think you can.

And know that we all have your back, while you're being brave.
And, then - hey, friend! - Report back.

Let us know how awesome it was!!!!
(PS: This story happened more than a little bit ago. And she did it. And it's awesome now.)
(PPS: thank you @darakass @Rsbeidas @choo_ek @DrJenGunter for serving as my bright lights and otters. xo)
(PPPS: Let me be abundantly clear.

The issue is a SYSTEMS issue. **This is not a failing of us, as individual women.**

But at the same time:

We can, as women, or as allies, be as brave as possible. And not let the system beat us - or our friends - down.)
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