Sexisme bienveillant à la sauce éthique

Je suis tombée enceinte au moment même où je commençais un contrat de recherche. Les débuts sont difficiles avec un de mes directeurs de recherche, surtout au niveau relationnel. A la fin de ma période d’essai, il me dit que c’est dommage, il aimerait engager quelqu’un d’autre, mais “comme je suis enceinte, il ne peut pas me virer”. Et puis, il disserte sur mes faibles compétences en recherche: je n’avais toujours pas fini le rapport de 100 pages qu’il attendait. J’étais là depuis 2 mois, c’était mon premier contrat de recherche. Pour conclure, il m’a dit que puisque j’étais si incompétente en recherche, il doutait de mes capacités à être mère. Il s’inquiétait pour mon enfant à naître. Normal, pour un professeur d’éthique. Quand je suis rentrée de mon congé de maternité, il attendu un mois pour me virer, comme le délai légal le prescrit. Mais à présent, je suis directrice de recherche.

Story signed by : Cilou

The story happened to me as a PhD student in the year(s) 2005-2009 at an academic institution in Wallonia

Enceinte … évidement vous ne voulez plus être un professeur à temps plein

Je n’étais pas à temps plein comme académique et luttait depuis quelque temps pour que mon temps soit augmenté. Ayant annoncé au Doyen de ma faculté que j’étais enceinte, celui-ci en a profité pour me dire: mais quand tu reviens de ton congé de maternité, tu ne voudras plus être à temps plein alors ?

Story signed by: Severine Dusollier

The story happened to me as a Dr. Prof. in the year(s) 2005-2009 around an academic institution in Wallonia

Why Women Are So Useful

During a master class, a professor said to a full class of more than 400 students: “Yes, the female students keep getting the highest grades in law schools, but that phenomenon stops once they enter the work force. Women only get better grades because they are so careful in taking notes and they study much harder. I also always used a girl friend’s notes to study when I was a student. So useful, these women.”

Story signed by: Law Student

“Professor Mistaken For Secretary”

As a ‘young’ female professor in my late thirties I went to the central research office to personally hand in a research project application file on the day of the deadline (a walk around the corner from my office). The (female) secretary behind the counter looked at the file and said to me: “Is Prof. X abroad because we need his original signature?”. Looking bewildered, “I am Prof. X”, I answered. The secretary was embarrassed of course and I tried to laugh it away a little as did some of her colleagues in the office who had witnessed the incident.

Maybe the secretary was also used to secretaries getting asked to deliver files rather than professors turning up themselves, I do not know…

Bemused rather than deeply insulted, this nevertheless is not an isolated incident. For example, when answering my work phone I always answer “Prof. X” in order not to be taken for a secretary. As I get and look older – and more self-confident perhaps – these incidents occur less and less, but I believe it is deeply gendered and male professors in the same ‘young looking’ age category on the average do not get the same treatment, both from women and men. The dominant image of the professor seems to remain male – white – and of a certain age, even today…

Story signed by : Pili Pala

The story happened to me as a Prof. Dr. in the years 2005-2009, around an academic institution in Flanders.

“Are You Pregnant?”

During the last trimester of my pregnancy, at work I attend a research seminar with some 30 colleagues and, after the presentation, during which I make some critical remarks on the adopted theoretical perspective.

While leaving the room all together, a newly appointed male colleague of about my same age, to break the ice says, loudly and in front of everybody: “So, you are pregnant?”.

A couple of weeks later, same situation, and the guy goes again: “So, you are pregnant?” Upon which I answer: “Yes, that’s what happens when you are loose :-)”. The guy could clearly not conceive that somebody making interesting remarks could also procreate.

Story signed by : Bittersweet

This story happened to me as a Prof. Dr. in the year(s) 2005-2009, around an academic institution not in Belgium.