The confidence factor: Observations from podcast producing

Here’s something that might surprise you: One of biggest hurdles we face getting guests on our podcast is not stage fright or scheduling conflicts but confidence.

What podcast you ask? Our women in STEM one, of course: Beyond the (Micro)scope. You should listen, it’s fun.

We send a lot of emails to friends, friends of friends and women we have some tangential connection to in order to convince them to take an hour out of their evening to talk with us. Or, more likely, humor us.

But many (definitely not all) of these email chains turn in to mini self-esteem workshops. We are talking to women who have advanced degrees from prestigious institutions. Women who have spent years to be experts in their field.

These are impressive people.

And yet, they still say the same things: “Well, I don’t know if I’m what you’re looking for” or “Well, I haven’t really done a whole lot.”

Sure, part of that response might because of a convoluted description that I gave about our types of guests, but I can’t really be that confusing … can I?

I don’t know if it’s a gender thing or a self-deprecating-try-not-to-brag thing, but it’s definitely a thing. It’s a confidence thing.  It’s a societal thing. A “who? me?” sense of assuming there’s someone more interesting out there thing.

But that’s the point of our podcast. If you had already discovered the cure for cancer, you’d be Time’s Person of the Year, on every major newsstand (digital magazine rack?), interviewed by every major broadcaster. That would be fantastic. But not who we’re aiming for.

Our goal has always been to talk to women who have studied STEM things, taken different paths, tried something new or just plain did science.

That’s the beauty of having diverse voices and people at different stages in their careers. It opens the door for fresh ideas from early career types who aren’t jaded yet and sage ‘things I wish I’d know’ comments from those more established.

And most importantly – we want to be a resource, a welcoming space and a community.

Possibly one of the best responses I received to an episode was an email from a close friend who is finishing her PhD and feeling a tad adrift. She emailed saying that, after listening to our conversation with Alice Ly, she’d finally heard someone express the same feelings she had, that she wasn’t the only one balking at the expected trajectory.

That’s what we want people to say.

So the next time someone asks you to be interviewed, just have the confidence to say yes, no hedging required.

We wouldn’t be asking if you didn’t already impress us.

This blog was originally posted on

About the author


View all posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *