Female Grad Student VS. Touchy Professor and Sexist Classmate

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’

Not Second, But Fifth Fiddle

I am a young woman in academia. I graduated just over a year ago with my Master of Arts degree, during which I was told I was too head strong for wanting to pursue my grant funded, permit awarded research. This verbose speaker
was my female professor and thesis chair. Perhaps blinded by her years of victimization and passiveness, she felt necessary to belittle the confidence I carried with a naive privilege. I began to rely less on her guidance and more on my mentor.

He and I have been working towards publishing an article about our research from a multi-year project over the past few months. This project embraces many collaborators, who have participated in varying capacities over the years. But more specifically, in the last two years this project has become the foundation of my published thesis. Thereafter, I drafted a manuscript of a concise and short, data-rich article to disseminate among our scholarly community. His response to this article draft was to table the piece, thinking that perhaps it could be part of a more specialized article with multiple authors. A collaboration of experts, how wonderful! I’ve come to find that the draft of this newer, more collaborative article has left me playing fifth fiddle to a string quartet.

Despite the obvious verbatim text and data borrowed from my thesis, I was listed as the fifth author to four men. The first author being my adviser, and the other three “authors” played supplemental roles of facilitating research access, rather than innovating original thought or scripture. When I inquired about the authorship order, I was told that it would be discussed among the other authors about the specific order…

What an uncivil and lawless place, where women are so poorly guided into remaining passive to these shadows who call themselves men.

Story signed by : Margaret Mead

Masters student pestered by senior lecturer

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’

Let’s Try a New Experiment: Self-Awareness

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

Write your own text? No no, women can’t do that, if you want, you can correct mine!

In the master thesis writing course, I was confronted by our professor’s strong preference for male students. As a group of 4 students (2M/2F) both girls have noticed that it doesn’t matter how ridiculous the proposals of the boys are, they are always applauded by the professor, while the proposals of the girls hardly get any attention. When we ask a question or express our ideas, we don’t even get a blink of interest. As well as the 2 male students as the professor try to force the ‘silly’ tasks upon us such as writing emails, maintaining the social relations with other partners, correcting their texts (we should not write texts ourselves since we are of course uncapable of doing so), and all the other ‘dirty jobs’ you can imagine … It was already in their roots, but I believe it has been encouraged by the behavious of the professor. This whole situation is extremely discouraging for the thesis, for continuing an academic education as a woman and in general for really stepping into the architectural world.

Story signed by: Fee

The story happened to me as a Master student in the year 2014 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

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

“Verder Studeren is voor Jongens?”

In het laatste jaar van mijn master werden een aantal beurzen beschikbaar gemaakt om een extra jaar in het buitenland te studeren. Alle geïnteresseerden moesten zich bij een van de professoren in de faculteit aanmelden. Toen ik op gesprek ging bij de prof, gebeurde er iets vreemds – iets waarop ik niet voorbereid was. Het hele gesprek lang moest ik mij verdedigen tegen het uitgesproken beeld van die prof. dat ik maar beter iets praktisch zou doen. Ik wilde echt wel verder studeren, bleef mijn refrein, maar dat bleek in dovemansoren te vallen. Mijn pogingen om meer te vertellen over mijn theoretische interesses werden telkens onderbroken en de vragen richting ‘praktijk’ geduwd. Toen ik mijn verbazing later deelde met een bevriende student die ook op gesprek geweest was, bleek dat zijn gesprek heel anders verliep: hij had rustig kunnen vertellen over wat hij al dan niet wilde gaan verder studeren en zijn theoretische interesses. Hij kreeg de beurs, ik niet.

Het feit dat ik daarna een beurs kreeg om te doctoreren (niet aan de universiteit in kwestie, meer nog, niet in Belgie), had ik alvast niet aan deze prof, noch aan de hele sfeer in die faculteit, te danken – waar de heersende opvattingen over de tweedeling tussen ‘theorie’ (kennis, wetenschap,…) en ‘praktijk’ duidelijk gegenderd waren. En ik ben er zeker van dat die prof zich van geen vuiltje bewust was, en wellicht over zichzelf dacht in termen van iemand die m/v gelijkheid ter harte neemt.

Story signed by : Theory is for Girls

This story happened to me as a Master student in the year(s) < 2000, around an academic institution in Flanders