Attracting New Opportunities: How Women in STEM Become Recognised Experts and Generate Momentum in Their Careers

Automatic Summary

Attracting New Opportunities: A Life-Long Strategy for Women in Science and Technology

Hello everyone, welcome! My name is Dr. Nikos. I’m a scientist who has shifted focus to people management and coaching, specifically for women in science, tech, engineering, and beyond. The topic I’m passionate about and want to share with you today is attracting new opportunities to enhance your career growth.

Challenges Faced by Women in STEM

Statistics hide disquieting revelations. Women are outnumbered by men at universities and more so in many workplaces, particularly as one advances in career. In STEM fields, women are more likely to abandon their pursuit. Cultures favoring men rule many workplaces and women often find themselves outnumbered in meetings. This is something many of you might relate to.

The pay gap between genders compounds the issue, not only regarding the actual numbers reflecting on our bank accounts but also the numbers that women assume to be a satisfactory salary. While a few workplaces are putting in efforts to address these issues, progress is glacial and appears to be a compliance exercise than a true change in conviction.

Cycle of Frustration

Many women follow the cyclic path of frustration - bringing in a shiny, detailed resume packed with credentials and successes to a new role in the hopes of landing a "dream job" where they can contribute significantly to the company and learn extensively. A period of excitement and slight insecurity follows, navigating through the new role and grasuring the infinite possibilities ahead. But after a few months, reality sets in, with office politics, shifting strategies, personal agendas, and a profit-focused mentality taht often sidelines investment in people.

Breaking the Cycle: Alternative Route to Success

Please don't get disheartened yet, as I've navigated through these obstacles myself - feeling overlooked and bored out, considering quitting as the only way out. Instead, I chose an alternative path that I am excited to share with you. The key was focusing on developing new skills, creating "fans" within the company, and building a network of advocates. This allowed me to attract opportunities and choices were aplenty for me - and I want the same for you!

Building Reputation and Opportunities

The aim is for you to turn the wheel of fortune by rising to a position where you’re asked to do more of what you enjoy. The focus should be on the present, instead of waiting for companies to transform their work cultures. Imagine building a reputation in your company that opens up exciting opportunities for you consistently. The aim is to take pleasure in a fulfilling career doing work we love, surrounded by people we appreciate.

Three Key Strategies to Success

What are the primary strategies in achieving this goal? Let me walk you through a conversation with one of my clients. She expressed her aim to drive important topics and identified three main ways to do this: developing a firm positioning within the company, connecting with the right people, and generating enthusiasm for her ideas. These elements fit perfectly into my “Free C Framework”: Credibility, Connection, and Communication.


All three elements (Expert Credibility, Connection and Visibility, and Impactful Communication) contribute to creating a path of opportunities and decisions. Give yourself a chance to branch out of the cycle of frustration and create a positive shift for yourself. Time is too precious to be spent unhappily in workplace frustrations, and you are too valuable and impactful to feel uninspired. Consider it an invitation to reclaim the power that resides within you and stimulate a beneficial change for yourself.

Ready to Step into Your Power?

Join me in my masterclass series titled “Women in STEM reimagined” scheduled in September. Connect with me on LinkedIn or send me an email to work with me privately. Take charge of your career path today and witness the change you can bring about.

Video Transcription

Welcome to everyone who just talked in. Uh we have 20 minutes together, sadly, only 20 because uh the topic that I'm talking about today is one that I love to geek out about on all of the time. So my name is Doctor Nikos.I'm a scientist by training, but since a few years now, I focus more on the people side of things at work. So uh doing change management in my corporate job and then on the side, I have a coaching practice where I focus specifically on women in science, tech engineering and so on. And what I had to do is what we're going to talk about today, which is attracting new opportunities. And with that, let me jump right in. So I'm gonna be switching between my um my slide screen and my chat screen. So I will check back in on occasion in case you have any questions, please just let me know. Um OK, so yes, attracting new opportunities. What is this all about? So basically, when we look at the statistics, it seems like the odds are stacked against us. Women are outnumbered by men first at uni um then in many workplaces, especially the more you advance in your career, the less women you see, and therefore women are often also outnumbered in meetings.

Uh Another thing that has been observed is um actually statistically is that women, women in stem are more likely to leave their field. And in many workplaces, we find cultures that favor men and I'm sure all of you can relate to this with a million stories uh that you experience day in and day out. Another number that I find interesting that illustrates this difference or this how the odds seem to be stacked against us is that the the pay gap uh in terms of, of our salaries, but not just, you know, the actual number, what we in the NC on our bank, a bank account, but even the numbers in our own head.

So for example, women have much lower thresholds to what we consider a satisfying or dissatisfying, dissatisfying salary. Now, of course, many workplaces start to pay more attention to these types of issues. But oftentimes the progress is slow and for some, it even feels like a mere compliance exercise rather than a true change of heart. And so what many women are left with is a cycle of frustration. We often come with a new resume um into, into our new role that includes many credentials and extra miles and successes, which then helps us to land a new job. And ideally it is a dream position where we can add value to the company but also be challenged and learn and grow a lot. Then we go through sort of a honeymoon phase, maybe about for about six months. And um during that phase, we often, at least that's what I find for myself and my clients, we oscillate between uh feeling a bit insecure and overwhelmed on one hand side because everything is so new and we're learning so much. But at the same time, we're really thrilled with the seemingly endless possibilities that we have. And we're so motivated only to find out a few months in that this company is just as normal as all the others.

With politics, strategy changes, personal agendas and oftentimes a profit, profit orientation that tends to de prioritize investment in people. And in those moments, it seems like the only way to improve our situation is to write a new resume and start this all over again by finding a new employer. And that is what I thought too until I have discovered an alternative for myself. So believe me, you've been uh I've been there um feeling overlooked in one job and bored out in another and thinking the only way out of this is to leave my company and go external. However, what I managed to do or to learn through all of these tough lessons is that I can change that cycle for myself by focusing on building new skills, not just the technical skills, but I'm gonna talk about which ones um creating fans in the company where I exist. And through that I created a network of fans basically that had uh new opportunities for me coming at me, left, right and center so much so that people started knocking on my door all of the time asking me to be on their projects and to join their teams. And I could basically pick and choose the opportunity that I like the most. One at one time, I even wrote the job description myself. It's like I saw the need for, for a certain position. I knew I wanted to do this.

I said, OK, here's what I can do. And then we went on from there and that is what I want for you too. So I want you to be asked to do more of what you love by taking matters into your own hands right now instead of waiting for companies to change because we still have a long way to go there. Um Actually, I looked up the gender gap report this morning from 2020 it says in western Europe and Western Europe is like one of the most advan advanced um regions in terms of gender equality at work. But still we have 54 more years to go. Uh If we continue at the current rate um until we have actually achieved that equality and then all of the other regions around the world. They are way worse, some, even over 100 years. So, who has time for that? Yes, of course, taking matter into our own hands is no guarantee for success because there are so many others, um, other factors at play when it comes to, you know, getting, getting promotions and things like this. But I think it still beats the hell out of just sitting there crossing our fingers hoping for the best and staying frustrated because nothing happens.

But instead, if we really start to take a different route than simply just uh revamping our resume is that we get more recognition from others. We get to participate in new projects and we get more responsibilities. This even comes with new positions and promotions and that is just the external factors. Uh What I find even more interesting or even more valuable are what happens inside of us. So we start to feel more confident, we're much more engaged at work and with others at work, we feel like we really belong uh where we work and we start to make a bigger impact. So if you only take one thing away from today, I would like it to be this. I want you to start building your reputation in your company so that you have new opportunities for yourself popping up like mushrooms. And you can choose to seize the ones that bring you greater career fulfillment. Because in the end, we all want to do work that we love with the people we like the way we want and how can we do this? I wanna share with you free strategies that if you pursue them at the same time and it's nothing dramatic, it's just small, consistent action in each of these strategies. Um That yeah, that basically brings about this result. So let me illustrate these three strategies.

Um if you know, using a conversation I had with a client recently. So we started working together and in one, in the first session, we said, OK, let's set your goal and determine what are the overall strategies that you're going to pursue. And she said, OK, what I really want to achieve is I want to move the topics forward that are important to me. I said, OK, how are you going to do this? Name me three things. And she said, OK, first, I want to build a clear positioning within the company. Second, I wanna be connected with the right people and third, I wanna get others enthusiastic about my ideas and each of these things that she mentioned, they fit so nicely into the, into my free C framework. That's what I call it, which is basically credibility, connection and communication.

And we're going to talk about each of these now to give you a little bit more idea to um Yeah, to just how, how you can start to build your um credibility, increase your connections and improve your communication. Network. So you have those opportunities coming up. I'm just gonna quickly check the chat. So, yeah, everybody is shocked by the, um, by the pay gap. Absolutely, Joe, this is, uh, it's, it's a ridiculous number. Ok. So let's start talking about credibility. So you may think that credibility is something very external and out of thing.

So how others perceive you and what others think of you? That is true. But it's only the second step the way I see it. Um Because first, we really need to be build credibility with ourselves because how can we be convincing to others if we don't even believe, you know, in ourselves, so to speak. So this credibility that I'm talking about really comes from knowing who you are, what you're capable of and what you want and then sharing that with others in a way that makes it relevant to them. But it always starts with you first. So let me illustrate that with a little example from a, from a client of mine. Um let's call her Flora and flora. When we first met, she was frustrated, but she didn't know exactly why she knew she was able to do good quality work, but didn't know how to talk about her strengths and ability and she didn't know what to answer if someone asked her why she wants to have a leadership position.

You see, she had a, she has a phd in chemistry and she works in the chemical industry. So you're kinda like by default on the leadership track. But whenever it came to the, to the conversation, she just didn't know like really what to say and if she even wanted it, so the majority of our work together really focused on finding out what gives her a sense of purpose at work to identify her strengths and aspirations, formula, formulate a clear goal for her next career step and then go out and talk about this to others, to her boss, to her new boss, boss, all of these good things.

So in the end flora now knows a lot more about herself and she knows she can change and adjust if she wants to. And she found that really liberating. She also said, I feel more confident and more able to argue for me my way of working and what I want to achieve. So you can see there's real magic in um starting to build the credibility with yourself first and getting real good clarity about who you are and what you want. And that is a really good foundation for you to then go out and um talk to others. So to make it even more specific. Uh and you can take a screenshot of this if you like um this, this self knowledge really encompasses your strengths, quirks and uniqueness, your passions, interests and purpose and your aspirations. There are also two mindsets that I really would like you to you know, nurture in yourself. One is the growth mindset and the other one is practicing self compassion because none of these changes will happen overnight. And we really need both of these to um not be too hard on ourselves when we sometimes fall short of our own expectations. And then the third element to really build expert credibility is positioning.

So really when you talk to others about yourself and your work and what you want to do, how can you share it with them in a way that makes it relevant to them? OK. So this is all about expert credibility. Moving on to connection, you see connection with the right people really make sure you get more visible in your company. And this is one type of feedback that many women in stem get from their, from their managers or from their colleagues. So you're, you're just not visible enough and you can think of this a bit being a little bit like a spider's web. So where, where this spider's web catches tons of flies in the same way, visibility catches your new opportunities like all on all on its own. In fact, a mentor of mine always used to say maximum visibility equals maximum opportunity because people will then remember you and they will want to work with you more often. If you build uh good connections, they will rave about you even when you're not in the room and they will recommend you to be part of projects or to be considered for promotions. In fact, according to Harvey Coleman's book Empowering Yourself, the organizational game revealed 60% of your success at work is attributed to what he call he calls exposure, but basically is um visibility. So how do you get more visible at work?

So first of all, you need to know your people. So when it comes to you as a person who are your supporters and advocates, and when it comes to your projects and ideas that you want to move forward, who are your influences and your challenges that you still need to convince. And then once you have that map, you can go out and start building those relationships by making new collections or nurturing the bonds you already have. And the third element here is really my, my favorite way of non sleazy, you know, to, to have a non sleazy way of increasing your visibility. And that is having everyday micro moments, positive micro moments of connection with the people you're just naturally organically interacting with because you're working together. And again, I brought you an example from a client, let's call her Lisa this time. So when we started working together, she was struggling to find meaning in what she was doing. Like why am I even opening up the laptop every day?

She had a good technical knowledge and skills but found it really difficult to feel motivated and valued and all of that was impacting her confidence in her own abilities. And then she ended up worrying, ok, how are, how are others even perceiving me? So once we started working together, we first helped her identify how she can better value her role herself and then find ways to engage with senior managers and begin collaborations with her peers in a way that felt, you know, natural to her and authentic. And she built a self represents self representation skills to be top of mind and to be considered for new opportunities. All of this within three months and three months is not a long time. But anyways, within three months, she received three separate pieces of unsolicited feedback from other managers saying how impressed they were with how she showed up, she felt much more confident to express her views to senior management and she had even other people approach her to, yeah, to, to mentor them.

And then when I checked in with her a few months later, because her department is restructuring, she feel she feels that she's now in a in a prime position to really choose the best spot for her when the news um strategy is revealed. So remember this maximum visibility equals maximum opportunity and yes, you can that you can do that in a way that feels authentic to you. OK. I'm just gonna check the chat for a moment just to see if there are any questions. Not yet. OK. Um So now we talked about expert credibility. We talked about connection and how this increases your visibility. Now you think, OK, it's like I have now the confidence I'm in the right room with the right people I can now just share my ideas and uh everything will be peachy and they will be acted on. Only to find that uh after you, you know, you share all of your points and you leave the meeting and then nothing and you feel either disappointed by the lack of engagement or enthusiasm of others, or you feel puzzled by the tons of scrutinizing questions that you get or you're outright frustrated because absolutely nothing happens even though everybody said yes, yes, this is important.

So it is as if you are talking into a void and that is where that third pillar comes in, which is communication. And here the trick is really to know what to say and how to say it to really make an impact. You know, there are tons of books that have been written about communication and I'm sure there are plenty good courses. And what I find though is when I'm working with all of my different clients is that the best way to improve your communication is to constantly reflect on what works and what needs to change and then make those adjustments accordingly. All too often though, we don't know how to improve or we try to solve the wrong problem. And that is the moment when getting the help from someone outside of us, meaning it could be a coach, it could be a mentor or if your boss is really good at this, then they could help um to, yeah, to, to really help you identify what it actually is that you need to improve about your communication to be more impactful.

And just to illustrate that with another three of my clients. Um So let's talk about Stephanie for a moment because she has been told that she communicates well in a corporate environment, she gives Stella presentation, she writes thorough emails and she has, she has excellent summaries for meetings.

However, she noticed something isn't landing. And so she just fails to inspire people and take them along with her on the journey. So she doesn't need to learn how to give her proper presentation. She needs to learn how to tune in to your, to her audience and make sure to, yeah, make that connection while she's communicating. So people come along with her completely different situation for Leo because she came to me saying, ok, I think my English isn't good enough. Maybe I talk too fast and that's why people don't get what I'm saying. But truly, when we looked in more depth into how she communicates, we found out that often, she just really isn't clear about what her point actually is and that her message lacks the structure that makes it more digestible for her audience. So as you can see a communication problem, but it needs a completely different approach to make it more effective. And lastly, Fiona, so she kept using the same presentation to pitch for support for her team and for her ideas, but she didn't get much interest in the subject.

So she now needs to learn and we're working on a complete strategy for her to tailor the message to each of the audience that she's speaking to and find ways to repeat the message often without being repetitive about it. So you can see plenty of ways to improve your communication. But when you find out what is the right problem to solve about it, that is when you reap all of the benefits like the trust that you build, uh you improve your relationships, you avoid misunderstandings and just imagine how much, how much time that would save you. Um resolving conflict, you're really becoming a recognized expert. Uh You get more endorsement for your ideas and with that, you will have a bigger impact. So yeah, and it's absolutely no shame if you need outside help with this because we can't read the label when we're the genie in the bottle. So with communication, it's always good to ask for feedback or get the support of experts in this. But to help you with getting started, um I really want to share with you two things that you should never forget when you structure and prepare your communication. The first element is to deliver your message. Well, meaning you need to know your audience.

You need to be really clear for yourself. What is your goal with that communication? You need to make your point concisely and then speak with conviction. And then the second bit to never forget is that it's never a one off. So instead of thinking, I'm gonna give this presentation and then I'm going to be done with it. Really go in prepared that you need a full communication strategy. That's not always presentation, presentation, presentation, but find different ways and channels um to engage with the different people that you need to convince. And in that way, you can then spark the change that you want and inspire action in others. OK? I love to gig out about these topics forever. But unfortunately, we only have 20 minutes today and these are soon over and I want to make sure I have time for your questions. So let me quickly summarize um what we have learned today. And um yeah, let me just summarize. So remember my wish for you is that you just break that cycle of frustration and create more opportunities for yourself. So you can really pick and choose the ones that you like the most. I want other people to come to you and ask you to do more of what you love with the people you like the way you want. And you really only need three things for this expert credibility, connection, and visibility and the right communication for a bigger impact.

And if you want me alongside on your journey, then you can come and find me on linkedin. Um You can join my next uh masterclass series called Women in Stem reimagined. It's coming up in September, it's free to join and it's gonna be awesome. And uh you can also work with me with me privately if you choose to. And yeah, you can just send me an email there because listen, life's too short to spend most of it unmotivated and frustrated at work and your skills and strengths and your drive are too valuable to be wasted. And so that is why I really want you to stop waiting for empowerment by your company and step into the power that you already have and create the positive change for yourself. And that is what I wanted to share with you and I'm happy to answer any questions and join your conversation. Oh, yeah, Joe Joe was actually part of the, of the first season of Women in Stem reimagined, which was really as a guest expert. It was really awesome. Ok. If you have any questions, oh or other comments. Thank you so much. Definitely for being here.

Um I hope you enjoy the rest of the con conference and if uh other questions come to you later on then um just, you know where to find me have a good day.