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

“A mother should be with her kids at home”

I was doing my postdoc abroad, and became pregnant for the second time.I met a former postdoc of that lab, and she said “ah, I heard you’re going to leave science?”. I was surprised because I never told anyone that was my plan, so I asked where she got that idea.

It turned out my lab head had told her that “because now that I would have 2 kids, I would not be able to stay in science”. For him, having kids and not staying at home for them as a mother, was unthinkable. “Why else do you have kids of your own? To have them raised by somebody else?” he once asked me. He also had 2 kids, and had his wife (also PhD!) stay at home for them.

It’s more than 10 years later, I have 3 kids now, and I’m still in science…

Story signed by : scientist & mom

This story happened to me as a Post Doc in the years 2000-2004, around an academic institution in [Not in Belgium]

“Academic or Slut?”

In the first month of my post as a newly appointed lecturer, the Director of Research invited me to lunch to discuss new projects, then, half way through, he lent over, touched my leg and asked me if I was a slut.

Story signed by : Frances

This story happened to me as a Prof. Dr. in the year 2013, around an academic institution [Not in Belgium]

“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.