“You’ll have a great time! With a presentation and two poster sessions your visibility is going to sky rocket and you should have no problem swinging a postdoc at a good lab.” Sarah sat on Chloe’s bed, chatting as Chloe packed for the conference.
“You’re the star of the lab and everyone keeps saying that your latest results will get into Science, so you’ve got it made. You should be able to get time to relax - you’ve had your nose to the grind stone for four years.” Sarah continued to babble happily.
Chloe glanced over to Sarah with a mildly exasperated expression. “Sarah, all that’s going to happen is that I will need to work even harder to get an academic job after the postdoc. This is nothing compared to what it will be like once I get to Assistant Professor. But I agree that I need to push as hard as possible at the conference. I’ve gotten great results over the past several years and now I just need to play it right for a job. I already have one interview lined up for University of Washington, but I would prefer to get a job in California. I wouldn’t mind working in Waterman’s down at Berkeley - that should kick off my career quite nicely.”
“Waterman. Hmmm. Chloe you need to watch yourself around him.”
“What do you mean? I’ve never heard anything bad about him and he is top of the field. I haven’t ever met him, but I met his grad students, both current and former, and they only have good things to say about him. In fact, they wax lyrical about what a great supervisor he was.”
“Well. It’s probably stupid. But, you know the epigenetics conference you are going to has been held every other year for a while. Waterman always goes. When I went a couple of years ago, Waterman hooked up with a blonde postdoc at the conference. I saw her - she was pretty hot, big boobs and blonde hair, and dressed to show her body off. But she kind of disappeared from the research community after that. And I had heard it happened once before, a hot blonde, and she also got out of research.”
“Give me a break Sarah! We’re all adults and if people want to hook up at a conference, that’s their business. Unless you are saying that there was some kind of pressure or harassment going on?”
“No, no, nothing that like that I have ever heard of. It’s just kind of strange. I heard that both women were promising researchers, but both just dropped out.”
“Well, I have light brown hair, not blonde, and no one could ever accuse me of dressing to show myself off.” Chloe looked down at her standard daytime uniform of jeans and sweatshirt. She intentionally dressed in ‘the grad student uniform’ to downplay her looks to avoid any attention and keep herself focused on research.
“You are pretty hot looking and you will admit that you have really big boobs. People might notice if you bothered to dress up at the lab, which you don’t. So just be yourself and you will be fine.”
“Sarah! Look at what I am wearing for my presentation.” Chloe held up a basic dark skirt and jacket and a plain cream blouse. “This is boring, boring, boring. No one will pay attention to my looks. I don’t want them to. What matters are my results. I have my presentation and poster sessions on the same day, so I will be in skirt for one day and jeans on the other two days. I really only need one outfit. That’s my motto - dress conservatively. You know I enjoy dressing up when going out and clubbing, but this is business.”
Sarah laughed. “If that’s what you are wearing, you’ll be fine. Hopefully I will get to your poster sessions, but I may locked up the whole day at other sessions. It will be great.”
“ ... and that’s it for the morning session. Let’s take a break for lunch and we reconvene at 1:30 for the first afternoon session.” The moderator looked over the crowd.
Chloe took a deep breath as she stepped away from the podium with a great feeling of satisfaction. She had nailed both the presentation and the Q&A afterward: The questions had come hard and fast, and she handled each one with a brisk and concise answer. The questions even gave her a chance to refer to the first of her afternoon poster sessions that covered the methods for her experiments. Methods posters always received quite a bit of attention and she expected a large number of people to show up.
She stepped down from the podium into a small crowd who wanted to get more information from her. Obviously, the presentation was as well received as she had hoped. Answering questions took a surprising amount of time and while doing this she noticed an unremarkable man in his late thirties standing off to the side. She only noticed him because he seemed to stare at her intently as she discussed her work with the crowd of grad students. When Chloe glanced at him again she realized that he was staring at her chest. Normally, this might have bothered her but dressed up in her conservative and rather shapeless blouse and jacket, there really wasn’t much too see. He was still doing it a few moments later, so she glanced down at herself, thinking that perhaps she had dropped food on her blouse. She flushed a bit when she realized that she had put on her clubbing blouse for the day instead of the cream one. The blouse showed off her figure: It was closely fitted around waist and tight around her breasts emphasizing their size. She was embarrassed to realize that her figure would have been pretty obvious during her presentation, even with her jacket on, though fortunately everyone seemed to be concentrating on her work.
The man took this moment to walk up to her and then spoke with a resonant baritone that sent a mild thrill down her spine. “Ms Blackman - that was a great presentation. And superb work. Really superb. I am most impressed. I’m Joel Waterman, I work out a Berkeley, and am hoping to ask you a few questions about your methods. I can see quite a few applications to work I am doing on gut biomes.”
Chloe was both pleased by his words and a bit flustered by finding out that the researcher she was interested in working for had been staring at her chest for the last few minutes. But perhaps she had been mistaken. Then his words fully registered and Chloe woke up from her momentary reverie.
“Professor Waterman - so nice to meet you. I am aware of your work, of course. Thank you for the compliments on my work- I worked hard on this and was fortunate enough for some my techniques to pay off with great results. If you are interested in more detail about the methods, I have a poster immediately after lunch.”
Chloe saw his gaze sharpen with interest. “That’s terrific. I won’t take up your time then because the poster session is only thirty minutes from now and you probably need to get lunch.”
Chloe started at this and looked at her watch. She felt her stomach sink as she realized there wasn’t enough time to go back to her hotel, get lunch, and get back to her poster session in time. She would have to plow through the rest of the day wearing her tight blouse. But if she carefully kept her jacket buttoned at the bottom it wouldn’t be too noticeable.
Chloe had a quick lunch at a cafe next to the convention center, happy to get a few moments to herself before handling the two afternoon sessions which bumped up right against each other. She shifted uncomfortably as she ate - her blouse was a bit tighter than she remembered - maybe she had gained some weight. Glancing at her watch, she saw that she had run out of time and walked quickly to her poster, getting there just in time for the session to start and the for the first people to wander over to ask questions.
The first hour at the post session went very well with tens of grad students and researchers wandering by to follow up from her earlier presentation. Chloe found herself enjoying the process of stepping each new group through the logic of the setup, tracing through the logic by tapping her long nails, polished a bright red, on the poster. She idly wondered when she allowed her nails to grow so long but they made a nice tap on the board as she pointed to each section. As time went on during the session, it began to get uncomfortably warm and Chloe unbuttoned her jacket to increase the air flow. A moment later, a conference administrator wandered through the area and apologized for the fact that the air conditioner in this section of the building had broken down. It was when Chloe felt sweat beading on her forehead that she had enough and decided to take her jacket off. She went behind the poster to take her jacket off and, as she maneuvered out of her jacket, she felt the top of her blouse tighten and then loosen suddenly as the top two buttons of her blouse flew away, letting her collars fall to the side and revealing a generous amount cleavage. She felt a moment of panic and tried to push her collar back up, but it refused to stay there, and continued to fall open no matter what she tried. She glanced down at her chest as she walked to the front of the poster and felt her heart stutter as she realized that she was wearing her sheer push up bra, not her normal bra. How had she made the mistake of wearing the wrong bra? At least it explained why her blouse was so tight. She blushed red as it sunk in that she had been walking around all day with her breasts proudly pushed up. She hesitated a moment, wanting to go put her jacket back on, but a rush of hot air forced her decision to continue without it.
Chloe continued to receive large numbers of people asking to be stepped through the methods on the poster, but she noticed that the men were starting to pay more attention to her than the poster. “Men!” she muttered as she continued to finish out the hour. The crowd was starting to thin, and Chloe planned out her steps, thinking that she would leave a bit early, dash back to her hotel down the block, change, and be only a little late for the next session. Luck was not with her, though, as when the session was about five minutes from ending she saw Professor Waterman arrive, hanging back as she finished off with the current attendees. She glanced at him several times as she finished up, noticing that he was spending quite a bit of time staring at her legs. “Well,” she thought, “at least he is not staring at my chest like he did before.”
“Would you be willing to step me through your methods, Chloe?” Waterman said warmly has he walked up. “I am quite excited to learn more.”
Chloe again noticed that he had a compelling voice and felt gratified that he appreciated her work. Waterman had some very detailed questions, all which indicated he truly was interested in her work and he paid close attention to everything she said. He would touch her arm as he spoke, and she felt a bit of a thrill every time he did this. It took almost ten minutes for her to wind up. He finished by thanking her warmly with a two handed hand shake that sent another shiver through her body and said that he would be sure to see her next poster. As he walked away, Chloe glanced at her watch again - saw that she was actually running late, but if she walked very quickly from the convention center and jogged the rest of the way to the hotel she could get back for her next poster, though ten to fifteen minutes late.
She started to walk quickly towards the entrance, but found herself mincing her steps, with an unsteady balance. She looked down at her feet, raising one shoe, and stared with confusion, trying to recall why she had put on her stilettos this morning instead of her normal flats. And why she would wear stockings. She never wore stockings! All of this held tightly together with her tight pencil skirt, limiting her leg movement. Chloe’s heart fell as her plans went awry - there was no way that she could either walk quickly back to her hotel in these shoes and she couldn’t even take long strides in her skirt. She felt a wave of helplessness with the realisation that she would have to spend the rest of the day in her rather revealing clothes. She resignedly started walking towards her next poster session.
Chloe’s next poster session was at the far end of the convention center. Trying to hurry, Chloe began to sway her hips as she walked, something that allowed a bit longer stride, but also felt surprisingly comfortable, almost the natural way to walk. She felt almost naked without her normal conservative clothes hiding her looks, and she was feeling increasingly uncomfortable as she could almost feel the sideways glances from men as she walked down the hall. Maybe it was the sway of her hips causing men to notice her more. She walked as quickly as she could, which honestly wasn’t very fast, and finally arrived only five minutes late to her poster. There were already people standing in front of the poster waiting for her arrive so she launched directly into the description of some of her early results in her study.
The air conditioner in this side of the building seemed to be over compensating and it wasn’t long before Chloe had goosebumps on her arms and she was shivering. She looked around for her jacket, and then remembered that she had left it on the other side of the building. In a brief moment free from questioners, she looked at her reflection in a nearby window and was dismayed to see that her nipples were clearly visible through her sheer bra and tight blouse. Just as badly, yet another button had fallen from her blouse leaving only a thin line above her bra. She looked a Barbie with her tight skirt and blouse that fitted closely around her waist before cantilevered outward with her large breasts. Strangely, her top still looked quite fetching, her collar having fallen open in a way that looked quite natural, creating generous cleavage. Chloe took a deep breath to calm herself, but this only emphasized how tight her top was and strained even more buttons on her blouse. She tried briefly to cover her breasts with her arms, but this looked stupid so she put her arms down and decided to ignore the display, hoping that people wouldn’t notice. Her poster became increasingly crowded as time went on, though Chloe noticed with some dismay it was almost all men, most of whom paid much more attention to her than her poster. The level of attention was making her feel like a booth babe at a convention rather than a researcher at an academic conference.
It stayed cold and Chloe found herself folding her arms to stay warm, not noticing this simply pushed her breasts up, straining her blouse until another button popped off. She looked down again in concern and gave a groan when she saw that her bra was now visible and her nipples were barely covered by the top of her bra and blouse. Any sudden motion would reveal all.
Fortunately, there were no more sartorial disasters as the session wound down. Chloe continued to look at her reflection in the nearby window, mentally acknowledging that as embarrassing as her clothing disasters were, she actually looked pretty hot. Interestingly, the light was even reflecting off her hair in a way that made it seemed more honey blonde than brown. The color seemed to suit her, she thought.
Five minutes from the end, Professor Waterman again arrived at the poster while she was stepping the final two people through her results. She glanced at him a couple of times and this time he seemed to be staring at her skirt. She mentally sighed, perhaps it was just her imagination, because when he came up to talk to her he was just as charming and charismatic as ever.
“Chloe, would you be willing to step me through your poster? It looks like some very promising early results.” Waterman again spoke with that deep baritone that sent a thrill down her spine.
“Of course, Professor Waterman. As you can see...” Chloe stepped through her results, again responding to highly perceptive questions. She was again finding herself attracted to the Professor, his deep voice, charisma, and unfeigned interest in her work was a combination she was finding hard to resist. When she had finished her presentation, Professor Waterman looked at her piercingly for a few seconds and put an arm on her shoulder, sending another shiver down her spine.
“Chloe, if you are interested, I may have a job for you in my lab. I was going to offer it to someone else, indeed, I need to make my decision today, but I have been so impressed by your work, that I am willing to discuss making you an offer if you are interested.”
Chloe felt a thrill of excitement - a postdoc in Waterman’s lab! This was her dream job and would set up her research career like nothing else. Almost all of Waterman’s former PhD and postdocs were finding themselves highly sought after at all the best universities.
“Professor Waterman - of course I am interested. Perhaps we can meet up tomorrow and discuss it?” Chloe desperately wanted to get into her normal clothes for an interview.
Waterman shook his head. “Unfortunately, I can’t wait until tomorrow. I fly out at 7:00 am and I have to make the decision literally within the next hour. I have discussed the job with someone else here at the conference and they need to know by tonight because they may take another offer tomorrow morning. Why don’t you come up to my room to discuss it? We can step through the type of job it is and you can make a decision.”
Chloe was torn inside, she wanted to get back to her room to change, but this meant that a chance of a lifetime might disappear. Reluctantly, the pull of a post doc opportunity won out. “Well. OK. I am finished up here, so let’s go.”