“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.
.... There is more of this story ...