From disdain to respect

First appeared as a Web Original on September 2, 2019

At a math conference I attended as a graduate student, we were divided into teams to decipher an encrypted message. I was perhaps the youngest participant, one of the few women, and was eager to prove myself. And, of course, I wanted my team to be the first to finish. 

As the other members of my group offered their opinions and strategies, I found myself making snap judgments about who was worth listening to. 

Hours into the project, my team had made some progress but then hit a stumbling block. One participant repeatedly suggested an insight and a possible way forward, but I had already decided she didn’t really know what she was doing. At my urging, we went in a different direction. 

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