Wildlife Vocalizations is a collection of short personal perspectives from people in the field of wildlife sciences.
When I first started my PhD in Texas, I was told by a peer that the only reason I was offered my position was because I was a woman. This man implied that I had not earned my place as a fellow PhD student in the department, but had been gifted it to promote diversity.
Up until this point in my career I had been relatively lucky in the sense that I hadn’t experienced overt sexism like most women do, so I was a bit shell shocked in the moment and, quite frankly, incredibly hurt by the man’s statement. I couldn’t understand why anyone would ignore all my hard work and passion that got me to where I was that allowed me to earn that spot as a PhD student.
And that was just it. No one could take away all the long hours bent over a computer, endless days in the field, or the numerous relationships I had cultivated over the years. Remembering all that I had worked for, all that I had gone through, and the qualities I possessed as a young woman, reminded me of my own worth.
It was that truth, well-earned confidence in my abilities and accomplishments, that helped me get past that interaction with the male graduate student and the subtler microaggressions I continue to face today as a woman in this field. Something I struggle with is realizing that true self confidence is different from abject arrogance. It is not arrogant to have pride in who you are and what you have achieved. Most importantly, I learned that no one had the right to take away that hard work and passion.
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