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Swimming In Your Own Lane

I am always thankful when parents, colleagues and friends send along articles for me to read and consider. This week I received a very thought-provoking article from The New York Times entitled “Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?” http://nyti.ms/1f0jL3m

This is a hot topic in the media and rightly so- there appear to be fewer women continuing beyond post secondary in the sciences. And while this is a concern, it is not this particular issue that I found myself honing in on when I was reading the article.

The author suggests that one of the most powerful determinants of whether women go on in science may be whether anyone encourages them to do so. She then followed with a story about approaching her professor in order that he sign a drop slip such that she could discontinue the course.

I loved what her professor said to her:

“Just swim in your own lane,” he said. Seeing my confusion, he told me that he had been on the swimming team at Stanford. His stroke was as good as anyone’s. But he kept coming in second. “Zeller,” the coach said, “your problem is you keep looking around to see how the other guys are doing. Keep your eyes on your own lane, swim your fastest and you’ll win….you can do it…stick it out.” 

Beyond specific courses and programs of choice, this message is one that bears highlighting for all of us. Far too often, I hear and see students only measuring their success against those ‘in the other lanes.’

While encouragement of learning and growth is vital, it is even more important to guide our girls to ‘swim in their own lanes’.

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