Some scientific conferences are dominated by talks and some are comprised of talks + poster presentations. At conferences with talks and posters, it varies from conference to conference as to whether talks are more prestigious or whether it doesn't matter very much because there are so many posters, though of course it tends to be the case that talks are preferred. Big professors typically get talks, and students and other unfamous people get posters.
As it turns out, a colleague and I are both co-convening sessions at different international meetings later this year. At both of these meetings, talks are perceived as being significantly more prestigious than posters.
A few days ago, after organizing his conference session, my colleague said "The good thing about organizing a session is that I could assign myself a talk rather than a poster."
When my co-conveners and I recently organized our session, I didn't think I should assign myself a talk at the expense of other people who preferred talks over posters, so I assigned myself to the poster session.
I mentioned this to my colleague and he said "Well that's the difference between you and me." Then he told me that I had missed an excellent opportunity to promote myself and my work. I think I missed an excellent opportunity to be a jerk.
There will be plenty of women giving talks in my session, including some early career women, so I didn't feel that I needed to give myself a talk to ensure diversity of speakers. Also, poster presentations are a way to interact with more people and have extended conversations about your research.
Even so, I have been thinking about this for several days, and I guess it is bothering me. Where's the line between being nice and being submissive? Is this a classic case of a woman's failure to promote her research? I rather suspect it is. Two of my (male) co-conveners will give talks in our session, so I could have insisted on a talk rather than a poster. It just didn't seem like the right thing to do, though.
If I could re-organize the session today, I would do the same thing again. And I will have an awesome poster.
10 months ago