Marylene Palard

As Interviewed by Zachary Vasseur, March 18, 2018

Marylene Palard: In Her Own Words

First of all, Iíd like to introduce myself, my name is Marylene Palard. I have the dual citizenship American and French. I was born in France and I did all my academic studies over there. To see America more closely -- and not just through media and movies -- my husband and I decided to accept a job offer in the United States. We settled in Austin where weíve lived for the past 15 years. The social injustice that I would like to talk about today is something that is very dear to me. It is related to my immigrant background.

I am coordinator of an NSF education program that promotes research for undergraduate students. Two other persons - female workers like in most education related program -- are contributing into that program. Each year oral reporting for panelist are scheduled. Out of these three women, I never get to present orally. It is odd because Iím the one who is the most educated -- I have a PhD -- and the most senior in the job. Iím even the leader of this education program, the one who has the biggest responsibilities and who brings the new and creative ideas. So why do I not get to present orally? Well I have one explanation: itís because of my accent.

This accent is a part of me and cannot be removed, it can only be tweaked. It is part of my identity and will always slow me down through my professional life. By listening to voices, we know if people are young or old, if theyíre in shock, if theyíre scared, if theyíre happy or sad. Bottom line, you canít hide an accent -- itís your signature. Speech is a kind of traitor. Itís something that identifies you and you canít hide from. You are utterly dependent of your accent.