No Touching !

There aren’t too many girls in Industrial Engineering. But as it turned out in one class, they preferred men anyway. We were split up into groups of around 25 to get a hands-on notion of the common techniques like a lathe. During our first class – we were 20 odd boys and 4 girls – the assistant had to split us up per two. He had the ungrateful job of informing us that the rules of the lab were “that no girl was allowed to work the machines by herself”, and thus had to be paired up with a boy – the rest could pick their own partners. We could do the numbercrunching, but the actual settings on the machine had to be done by the boy and only by him – NO TOUCHING! I did get up and challenged him, wether he seriously meant to tell us we girls weren’t capable of handling machines. But it wasn’t his fault and all he could do was shrug and look apologetic.

So off we went, I did the numbers and passed them on to my partner. Since this meant I was without work most of the time, I never noticed my male partner had set up the machine wrong, with the blunt side of the chisel on the metal… So he turned it on, the chisel exploded because of the friction, pieces of metal flying around (nobody got hurt thank god) but that made the professor rush towards the emergency stop, frantically looking about, yelling “Ofcourse it’s a girl!”, and when all had gone quiet again, he insisted on calling us together to prove his theory that women weren’t allowed near dangerous machinery. No matter how I protested, again I had to suffer his sexist attitude.

A month later we had done some welding. And lo and behold, girls were this time allowed to work on their own. I remember when we had to present our welded piece to be graded, he was elated when he picked up my piece, the perfect weld… Until he called forward whoever was the creator of such perfection. When he realised it had sprouted from female hands, he waved me back, and retreated into his office without another word.

And to add insult to injury, end of the year I discovered that my male partner had received double my grade…

Story signed by: Aviendha

The story happened to me as a Bachelor student in the year 2005-2009 at an academic institution in Flanders

Sexism and Ageism

My/my friends story :
While looking for the perfect ‘thing’ to study I went and talked to a lot of people. I’m really career driven and was already thinking about doing my PhD. My life plan was looking good. Studying for 5 years, messing up one year. So make it 6. Getting good grades. Doing a Phd.
While I was telling this to a prof I got to know during “open class days” he said:

“I would not go for it, because you will be pretty old once you’re done, 27 or older, and you would have passed the most fertile part of your life. Once you find a job you would be 30 if you start having kids that’s really old. It might be even hard to find a spouse” He wasn’t joking at all!

That answer was so wrong of so many reasons. He was like 65 or something (I don’t really know but old) But than again, 21st century?
It’s fine for a male to study till his late 20’s but I shouldn’t be doing it.

Story signed by: FleurDeLaCompot
My language preference : English

The story happened in the year 2011 at an academic institution in Flanders

Does getting up at night make me unfit for research?

My supervisor told me, after the birth of my second child, seeing that I was tired from getting up at night: “I will be forced to state in your application for FWO funding that you are not in optimal shape to conclude this research”

Story signed by: Getting Up At Night

The story happened to me as a Post Doc year(s) 2005-2009 at an academic institution in Flanders

A female lecturer? Unimaginable…

As a PhD fellow, I was asked to give a guest lecture in a different department. When I arrived (more than on time), and wanted to enter my class room, I was intercepted rather rudely by a secretary saying something along the lines of “where do you think you’re going, miss? Students are not allowed in the class room, you have to wait in the corridor until the lecturer arrives and he will then invite you in.”

When I explained I was, in fact, the lecturer, she shrugged, saying there was no way she could have known that. No apology whatsoever.

On that occasion (as on many later on), I realised that sexism is not just a male-vs-female problem, all too often it’s women stereotyping other women.

Story signed by : A female lecturer (yes, really)

The story happened to me as a PhD Student in the year(s) 2005-2009 at an academic institution not in Belgium.

Introducing a Pregnant Postdoc

A prominent professor from abroad visited our research group. My promoter introduced all my male colleagues by saying their name and the research topic their working on. Then he introduced me: “And this is Ann, she is going to help me with the teaching… (I was just appointed as teaching staff, 30% of my time), but I just found out that she is pregnant, so I will not be able to take a lot advantage of it”.

He meant no harm, he considered this friendly and funny. I was affronted by the fact that my research was completely overlooked, even more than by the remark on the pregnancy, which was absurd, since I finished compiling new course notes and taught half of the course before my delivery.

Story signed by: Ann

The story happened to me as a Post Doc in the year 2010 at an academic institution in Flanders

You don’t have to go to bed with him !

Shortly after I started working as a PhD student, I became entangled in a conflict with my male supervisor about how the research should be carried out. After a long and painful struggle, arbitration settled the conflict to my advantage.

In the run-up to the arbitration I had several meetings with the faculty dean. In one of these meetings he looked at me, and sighed: “What’s the problem? You only have to work with him. You don’t have to go to bed with him”. Absolutely gobsmacked, I was. To my surprise the professor and senior lecturer, both women, who attended the meeting remained silent. I had too much on my plate already, to pursue the dean’s remark.

Until now, I still don’t understand why my two senior colleagues preferred to keep quiet.

Story signed by: J. van der Pol

The story happened to me as a PhD at an academic institution in Flanders

Promotion? Surely your Child Should Make You Happy

When applying for promotion to Senior Lecturer, my Head of Dept said to me that he thought I’d be happy now that I had a child! (I was clearly more highly qualified than the other applicants [male] but they had been in the department longer).

Story signed by : Forsythia

The story happened to me as a Dr. Prof. before 2000 in a UK University

Elderly Male Professor Takes An Interest in My Philosophical Bosom

As a PhD student, I was walking down the hallway of our campus building with a male student, also a PhD student in our program. An older man was coming towards us, and approached the male student to say hello. As he conversed with the male student, he blatantly stared at my chest the entire time. I felt very awkward, and wondered who this rude older man could be. He did not say hello to me, or ask my name, or introduce himself, but continued to gawk at my chest in a lecherous manner. Naturally, I did not want to introduce myself to him, given this behavior, so I ignored him. He was inviting the male student to play golf with him one day after class. After he walked away, I asked the male student, “who was that disgusting old man?” He replied, “Oh, you don’t know him? He is full professor here in the department.” After this incident, I started inquiring about his classroom behavior among some of the female undergraduate majors that I knew– not in any accusatory way, just general questions about what his classes were like. Nearly every woman I spoke to said that he consistently dismissed, belittled, and/or ignored any ideas or questions of female students, to the point where none of them felt comfortable in class. This was my first year of graduate school, and gave me a taste of what academia can be like for women– which was very eye-opening for me, because I assumed that intelligent and politically aware people such as I imagined philosophers to be could not possibly be this misogynistic and obnoxious.

Story signed by: Oryx Crake

The story happened to me as a PhD student in the year(s) 2000-2004 in an academic institution not in Belgium

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

PhD in babysitting?

A colleague of mine is a talented and promising PhD student. We share an office. Once our professor walked in and told us they were looking for babysitters in his neighbourhood and whether my colleague would be interested in singing up. I was amazed: not only is it not allowed to work next to your PhD project ( grant prohibits this) , my boss actively encourages one of our promising students to take care of other peoples children, instead of telling her to focus on her PhD, like he should. Another PhD student in the lab was at that moment struggling for money, he didn’t get his grant and there was no budget reserved to back him up. He never got the same question though.

Story signed by : sickandtiredofsexism