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

Cakes and Hugs

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

Teenage Angst

My 17 year old daughter is studying Archaelogy, Environmental science, Geology and history at A level and will apply soon to University. She is beautiful but very humble. She is also clearly spoken and minds her punctuation largely because of me nagging over the years. She is repeatedly beeped at by young male students driving past her as she walks to college. They think its a compliment its made her so embarrassed she gets very nervous each morning and if I can or her dad we will drive her there. She knows she will have to just grin and bear it but is that right? Today someone said she was posh and probably snobby as she had never had a boyfriend she must think she is better than everyone else! Luckily she is just about self confident enough to get on with life but she is nervous about university as she has heard the news lately about how sexist they are. When I posted something on facebook about people beeping their horns was making my daughter nervous. They said she should be happy when she is older she wont get the attention anymore. Do they not get it? She hasn’t asked for it and she doesn’t want it. She was lucky enough to born with looks that other people admire but she is just trying to study hard and make her way.

Story signed by : tezgwood1

The story happened to a friend of mine in the year 2014 around an academic institution in ‘Not in Belgium’

Casual sexism at Oxbridge

I’m in my thirties with a PhD and several years’ professional experience. During a meeting with all male colleagues, I was referred to by a senior professor as “a clever girl.”
I felt too humiliated to retort, and besides I don’t think he even perceived it as insulting so I would’ve felt awkward “making a fuss.” It’s played on my mind ever since though.

Story signed by : Doc Brown

The story happened to me as a Post Doc in the year 2013

Ignoring female professors

At a beginning of the year reception, our chair was introducing all of us to the new dean. We were all standing around loosely in a circle. We have several couples in our department, and when the chair got to the first couple, he said ‘This is Professor X, who works on Y, and his wife, Z.’ He did the same thing when he got to the next couple. In other words, two female professors were introduced only as the spouses of other professors–their titles and fields were not mentioned. A third female professor was skipped over altogether.

Story signed by : Hecate

The story happened to me as a Dr. Prof. in the year 2013 around an academic institution in ‘Not in Belgium’

Sexual harassment by postdoc – no support of boss

We got a new postdoc in his middle thirties in our lab from an eastern European country. From the beginning on, he was disproportionate friendly. He especially chummed up with the female part of the work group and always suggested going to a concert together. At first we all were very friendly, invited him to join in to go out for a beer together with the whole group after work. Since most of us didn’t like him too much from the beginning on, the girls always said no when he asked them out. However, he kept on asking even if you told him you had a boyfriend and preferred not seeing him in the evenings. After some time I got angry when he kept on asking. Especially since he on the one hand wanted to see you after work but didn’t respect you as an equal colleague during work (although we were both postdocs). One had the impression that he felt like the better scientist because he was a man. He never accepted my advice in genetics although I was clearly the expert whereas he never really had worked genetically before. He also started discussions about that in his opinion girls and women exclusively dress up and use make up to please men. One of our male PhD students told us that the postdoc and a postdoc from a Persian country (around 40 years old) came to him one day to ask him if it is true that German girls are easy. When the postdoc started to harass even our young female student helpers (although always with words, never physically), I became worried about letting them work alone in the culture rooms in the cellar on weekends. The more he harassed the girls and the less respected I felt, the more angry and unfriendly I became. Interestingly, every time I had a quarrel with him in the evening, I would find some lose tubes from my culture flasks the next morning. I cannot prove that he pulled them out but there was a high correlation. I know that several girls went to our boss to inform him about this postdoc. We also begged our boss to do something to stop the postdoc bothering the girls. However, I got the answer that we must understand that this postdoc – originating from an eastern European country – has another cultural background and therefore it might be that we misinterpret his behavior. Interestingly, I also originate from an eastern European country and I am absolutely not used to such a behavior from men. This story happened in a university in one of the bigger cities in Germany.

Story signed by : Angry female postdoc

The story happened to me as a Post Doc in the year 2011 around an academic institution in ‘Not in Belgium’

Mothers Are Apparently Not Scholars

After serving for two years on an important national committee, the Chair of the committee forgot my contributions at the committee’s annual meeting. Why? Well, as he told me privately after the meeting, he had become accustomed to thinking of me as a mother and not as an academic despite the facts that my work on the committee was exemplary and that I am an established scholar.

Story signed by : CHCF

The story happened to me as a Dr. Prof. in the year 2014 at an academic institution in Not in Belgium

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.

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

Verbrannte Erde…

Mehrere meiner Kolleginnen wurden von Professoren mit klaren sexuellen Absichten angesprochen; in mindestens einem Fall war der Prof verheiratet. Natürlich waren diese Kolleginnen selbst diejenigen, die am meisten darunter zu leiden hatten. Aber auch alle anderen Frauen, die davon etwas mitbekamen, brachte es in eine schwierige Situation. Es zeigte, dass diese Professoren jüngere Wissenschaftlerinnen als Freiwild betrachteten. Mit diesem Wissen im Hinterkopf mit ihnen zusammen(zu)arbeiten (zu müssen), und dazu noch zu wissen, dass mindestens einige andere Fakultätsmitglieder dies auch wissen, aber nichts tun, ist ziemlich unangenehm. Es gibt zwei Fakultäten, an denen ich mich quasi nicht bewerben kann, weil ich mit Leuten zusammenarbeiten müsste, von denen ich weiß, dass sie jüngere Frauen extrem schlecht behandelt haben. Diese Institutionen sind nicht nur für die Opfer selbst, sondern auch für deren Freundinnen und Kolleginnen, die es mitbekommen haben, verbrannte Erde…

Story signed by : feeling with the victims…

The story happened to a friend of mine as a PhD student in the year 2013