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Expert Voices provides important perspectives for women and underrepresented minority science trainees on a wide range of questions about graduate and postdoctoral training, working in academic and other settings, and important skills to develop as a researcher and educator. The Questions & Answers PDF below provides answers from physiologists representing both genders, diverse racial/ethnic groups, and a range of background experiences. Sample questions include:

  • What should you do if you suspect/feel you are being treated differently from the majority trainees in the lab, e.g., as hired help or a less-valued person in the leadership of the lab? 
  • What should a graduate student do if mentor tells her/him to try for “lesser” postdoc position or permanent position?
  • How would you suggest trainees who have trouble dealing with critical comments on their science or writing learn to handle it better?
  • Are there times when a trainee might have to challenge his/her mentor about why something was done or not done? What is the best way to do that?
  • If English is not a trainee’s first language, is it important that they learn to write and speak more fluently in order to be successful as a scientist? If so, what is a good way to gain that knowledge or experience?
  • How important is networking for trainees and scientists? 
  • How does a trainee find a balance between being confident and firm vs. being seen as aggressive?
  • Is it perceived by others to be a sign of weakness if you ask them for help in reading a draft manuscript or listening to a practice talk or lecture?
  • Is it important for minority trainees to have minority as well as majority mentors? If so, why?
  • How does someone identify a good mentor?
  • Does a trainee need more than one mentor?
  • Do minority or female candidates tend to negotiate positions and hiring packages differently than majority candidates? If so, what are the pros and cons to their approaches?
  • What should a scientist do if he/she thinks he/she is being overlooked for promotion opportunities or preferred committee assignments?
  • Who is/are the best people to look to for support as a new investigator?
  • What is the best way to deal with being the only minority or woman in a department or on a committee?