I’m a non-binary person, but a combination of the gender I’ve been assigned at birth and my gender presentation, most of the people assume that I’m a woman. My PhD supervisor sexually harassed me for two years, and none of the faculty (all men) took me seriously or helped me. Fortunately, I had a breakdown at one of the conferences, where an academic from another university (a woman) took me seriously and helped me get a new supervisor. One would hope here’s where the things end, but NO. My department punished ME for it. My former supervisor spread all sorts of lies about me – that I’m a lesbian (I’m bi), that I ‘hurt his feelings’ and that I wrote “you’re stupid” on a student’s work. He was believed, my teaching got taken away, and many of the faculty hate me. I’ve put in a complaint with the university, suggesting that my department have Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment policy and make sure this never happens to anyone again. Waste of my time – the reply was that the department has the policy anyway, and that my supervisor ‘didn’t mean’ to harass me. It sucks to the moon and back. I am suffering with depression and anxiety and will quit academia as soon as I can.
Story signed by : kk
The story happened to me as a PhD student in the year 2014 and took place around an academic institution not in Belgium
In undergraduate, I had a theory teacher who kept singling me out in class. I naively thought that he was interested in my research. However, as the semester progressed, he became touchy when talking to me, putting his hand on my shoulder… and he did not do this to anyone else. Then, he asked if I would assist him in his classes. I did not have a good feeling about it, so I stayed away from him and his classes at my time at that university.
I’m the only female in my American Literature course in my MA of Arts. I presented my research paper to the male-dominant class, which was required of each student. I had spent weeks of research and hard work to prepare my presentation. A fellow male MA classmate came up to me after my presentation and gave me some notes he had taken (not required for class). I thanked him for the feedback. However, when I read his notes, he stated that my argument was disorganized, redundant, frivolous, and irrelevant. My professor, on the other hand, said that I had a strong and effective argument. After reading his notes, I realized that he had not given any of the male students notes on their presentations. What gave him the right to give me those derogatory notes and not any of the male students?
Story signed by : Frustrated Graduate Student
The story happened to me as a Master student in the year 2014 around an academic institution in ‘Not in Belgium’
I work as a postdoc at a large institution. We have a well renowned research group, which is highly respected and I took this position for this reason. I have a strong research background, and am not afraid to say that I am good at what I do. It started out fine, with a pick of projects. Then the administration started piling up on me, other people administration, not just mine. I managed to get a hold of it, and sat happy for a while, completing my project and beng activately involved in three PhD projects, with two new starts earlier this year. Recently a new male postdoc has started a role at the university, and my research commitments have slowly been passed to him. In a way that he gets all the credit for work that is nearly at completion. He took control of the new supervisory roles, which was OK, because it’s nice to have more time. But I recently found out I have been taken off the supervisory roles for the students I am currently working hard alongside. When I mentioned this, it was suggested that I might be better placed in an admin position, and I was being sensitive. Please tell me it’s not always like this? My publication record suggests I am better placed at an institution that will encourage it.
Story signed by : Voltrux
The story happened to me as a Post Doc in the year 2014 at an academic institution in ‘Not in Belgium’
My male colleague (a doctoral candidate close to completing his degree) wrote an email about organizing outreach activity to the head of a conservation non-profit in one of our fields of study. The email was overall formal in tone. My male colleague’s rank is clearly stated in his email signature. My female friend and I, also doctoral candidates and experts in our own right in this subfield, get mentioned in the email as “enthusiasts” that “hope to participate.” No mention is made of our rank and expertise in biology and conservation outreach. We’re not just random ladies off the street that are enthusiasts. We have spent the best years of our youth devoted to conservation and have spent time also training professionally for conservation outreach. If he had written “enthusiasts and fellow graduate students”…that would have made all the difference in the world. Moreover, my colleague of six years misspelled my name. When I mentioned the typo, he makes no apology and laughs it off as “hahah. I’m getting tired.”
I’m afraid of bringing the email up to our lab group and being labeled as “too sensitive” by him and our female boss. I also want to set an example about how microgressions do have consequence and show my younger female mentees that standing up for something is important. Sigh.
Story signed by : I’m getting tired too, dude
The story happened to me as a PhD student in the year 2014 around an academic institution ‘Not in Belgium’
When I was a Masters student at a university in the UK last year I had the unfortunate experience of coming under the wing of a creepy senior lecturer (politics). Despite being married he made it clear that on engaging with me sexually I would receive ‘help’ with my dissertation and possibly as his PhD student. Turns out he was also willing to ‘help’ other attractive students, often speaking with them via Facebook and online. He invited me out for wine in his hotel room as well as another student (attractive but not academically promising) … Such a creep. As his interest in me waned, so did his ability to respond to me professionally ..
When I mentioned this to the university I was pretty much dismissed and there was little interest in looking into his behaviour. I only hope his long suffering wife now knows what he is like and has moved on.
Not the only incidence of inappropriate and lecherous behaviour from male academics within this department. Something of a reputation! Students should be wary of engaging in ‘out of office’ contact with staff outside of open forum type communication. I learnt the hard way that no good-natured ‘help’ was intended by being invited out for wine and intimate conversations despite talk to the contrary…Felt to me that Masters student were seen as ‘fair game’ to some …
Story signed by : Masters Student
The story happened to me as a Master student in the year 2014 around an academic institution in ‘Not in Belgium’
Many years ago I tried for a position at my current university (lectureship), just a few weeks after giving birth. I din’t get the job, and requested feedback. The response: “The panel is aware that you have just had a baby. Children are important! You should have a five year plan for coming back to work.”
Years later (after working as a freelance media producer, despite children!) I was appointed as lecturer in Media Production at the same University. I was never given teaching in my area of expertise. Junior male collegues would be give roles to co-ordinate MAs etc, whilst I was given very time consuming pastoral work of low-status (typical ‘feminine’ duties!).
I successfully gained grant funding on large collaborative research projects, but no relief from other duties. When I brought up the issue of workload, I was told to simply offload work to my two Research Assistants. A male colleague, when he complained of his workload (with no research project responsibilities) was advised to seek a pay rise.
It carries on and on in ways too boring to recount, and which get progressively worse. I am leaving my post in a few months. I just can’t stand it!
Life is too short!
Story signed by : Tired Feminist in academia
The story happened in the year 2014 at an academic institution Not in Belgium’
1) for the group email he sends as recipients the male professor always lists all men first, followed by females… When there are presentations every week , he schedules them, so men go first and then the ladies. Small sexism, but still!
2) when there are undergrads in my lab they always ask me “are you a master student?” The truth is, I’m a PhD student and just because I am pretty and dress well I am taken less seriously !
Story signed by : Iggy
The story happened to me as a PhD student in the year 2014 around an academic institution in ‘Not in Belgium’
I work in the mathematical sciences. In my field, there are a number of well-qualified and nationally-based female scientists. However, very few of them have been recognized for their work, including being asked to serve on grant selection committees for the national granting agency. Male colleagues who have served on these committees have confided that the reasons for overlooking these women relate to their research applications being primarily in health (as opposed to, e.g., finance), which has been targeted as irrelevant by the program officer in the current funding climate.
Story signed by : Disappointed
The story happened to a friend of mine as a Dr. Prof. in the year 2014 at an academic institution ‘Not in Belgium’
I was enrolled in a seminar about experimental literature where the Prof. encouraged the students to share their own experiences and feelings. During a class discussion on a novel described by its author as a ‘feminist’ text, the female students criticized the novel for the lack of attention the author paid to the everyday experience of sexism. The Prof. admitted he did not know what the term ‘everyday sexism’ meant. After an explanation from an articulate student, who also noted that this form of sexism was particularly present among the ‘educated’ male academic, the Prof. proceeded to angrily tell the women in the class, “I know there is no sexism in this department.” He then made it clear that he would never teach this particular text again as it had not offered “productive” discussion.
Not only is this Prof. the departmental liaison for the University’s anti-discrimination body, he also–repeatedly–engaged with the female students over the course of the term in creepy, almost predatory ways: such as offering one student liquor to ease her nerves before a presentation (which his research assistant told us he did indeed have in his office), and commenting on the physical characteristics of another, saying “I was just imagining you as a blonde,” when she shared an anecdote about not being recognized after dying her hair.
I’m sad to report that this attitude is also present among the male students in the department.
Story signed by : AlienatedinAcademia
The story happened to me as a Master student in the year 2014 around an academic institution in North America
In a meeting with a head of the department, a female professor was told that she should be Senior Tutor as she is ‘all cakes and hugs’ while a male colleague should be in charge of strategy. There is no evidence that this male colleague has any previous experience of strategy.
Story signed by : another lecturer in the UK.
The story happened to a friend of mine as a Dr. Prof. in the year 2014 in the UK