Many people naively think they will get what they deserve if they just dutifully do what is expected of them. But this is a vain thought and is particularly ill-adapted to the lifestyle of overworked American scientists. It assumes that other people focus, at least to some extent, on us and our needs. In actuality, most people focus primarily on themselves, and it is our obligation to call their attention to our scientific expertise and abilities if these needs are to be met.

My own experience as an adviser to young faculty members bears this out. About 10 years ago, when I was serving as the director of the then newly established Office for Academic Careers (OAC) at Harvard Medical School, a young woman faculty member came to me for advice.

She had been in her position for quite some time without getting a raise, while, in her perception, all...

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