Sometimes its just too much …

I work in a faculty with majority female academics but majority male professors. The usual story. In a research day there were anonymous questions. The first three. Why no women professors? Promotion for women and BME? What about opportunities? The answer by a professor: Inequality for women in academia is an old problem now, it has been resolved. When it came to being considered for promotion a female staff member was told (by a male professor) not yet, be patient, you don’t have enough teaching, enough research, enough grant money but remember no woman over 50 has a future career (the irony is that his research is about prejudice, inequalities, social justice). Even if we’ve had one victory (female professor) … the reality is grim. Women do most of the teaching, women are getting sick from overwork, women get unequal workplan time. Old problems continue and women academics get shit treatment from some men in universities. Sometimes its just too much.

Finally Giving Up!

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’

Disappointed in grant selection committees

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’

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

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’

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

Merry Sexist Christmas

As a young unmarried woman with a child, it must have greatly surprised my new all male colleague members, at a relatively conservative institution and faculty, that I was hired as a professor. They made it quite clear to me from the beginning that my ‘marital/parental’ status was not acceptable. This implicit bias was made very explicit one year at our Christmas dinner. This dinner like all other staff meetings was held in the evening and involved consuming lots of alcohol. As I was not married it was hinted at that it was not appropriate to bring my partner (the father of my child). When I explicitly requested permission, it was approved but begrudgingly. When we were already at the dinner, the head of my department raised a glass to all the members of staff and ‘their stay-at-home-wives who made it possible for them to important work’. This excluded my partner both for his gender and was an explicit criticism of our status. It also suggested that one could not be successful in a two-career household and that stay-at-home partners did not do important work. What a beautiful Christmas message.

Story Signed by: Nemesis

The story happened to me as a Prof. Dr. at an academic institution in Wallonia

«Academic Vocation»: A Gendered Construction

As a young professor I was the first female member of staff in my faculty. The rector of our university decided to come to a faculty meeting to present his ideas for the future of our university. He began by explaining that there was a need to offer a wider range of courses to the students and he had decided that the best way to do this was to increase the hours during which courses could be taught. Instead of offering courses from 9 am to 6 pm, he wanted to start courses at 8am and have courses go until 10 pm. I decided to raise my hand to ask a question. As a single mother this educational reform would make my life impossible. I tried to politely suggest that this reform meant that all faculty members would have less and less time with their partners and families. His response was very clear, ‘you are here by vocation’. As most of the other faculty members were single men or men of the cloth, it was very clear that anyone who was not 100% committed to academia didn’t belong. Since that moment it has been even harder to feel at home in my faculty.

Story signed by : You don’t belong here.

The story happened to me as a Prof. Dr. at an academic institution in Wallonia

Academic Cover Ups of Domestic Violence

My ex-husband, a faculty member at the same institution, was abusive to me and received a resulting criminal conviction, which counts as a misdemeanor in my state but a felony in other states. He continues to be employed, although administrators are aware of his conviction. I have to face him at faculty meetings, and I also have to face his male colleagues, who “sheltered” him and helped him during the separation process. He spread rumors that I am crazy and attempted to win custody of our child, which the court denied him.

The administration has supported him. One senior administrator to whom I went after all this transpired told me to separate the personal from the professional. Another senior administrator, who had earlier persuaded me to stay in the relationship, even though it showed signs of abuse, just shrugged her shoulders.

It bothers me that an institution of higher education has constructed such an incredible silence around an abuser. I wonder how many faculty are abusers and are tacitly protected by their institutions. Their faculty spouses probably move to other institutions or leave academia altogether. I know of at least one other case of a tenured professor at a nearby, smaller college who was convicted of a felony assault after chasing his then-wife (a faculty member at a different institution) while holding a knife. The man continues to teach and do research. How many more are out there?

Story signed by : Alice in Wonderland


Als vrouwelijke professor in één van de meest mannelijke disciplines (ingenieurswetenschappen) ben ik volledig vóór de gelijke behandeling van mannen en vrouwen. Ook is het voor diegenen die met sexisme te maken hebben wellicht een opluchting om hun verhalen ergens kwijt te kunnen. Nochtans vrees ik wel dat een website zoals deze nogal een negatief beeld geeft. Het is zeker NIET zo dat vrouwonvriendelijkheid heerst in alle academische faculteiten en alle instellingen. Ikzelf heb tijdens mijn loopbaan nooit rechtstreeks te maken gekregen met enige vorm van sexisme en zie ronddom mij dat het maken van sexistische opmerkingen eerder een geïsoleerd fenomeen is bij sommige collega’s. Ik zou het dan ook mooi vinden als jullie in jullie analyse ook verhalen zoals het mijne zouden opnemen. Momenteel worden veel inspanningen gedaan om meer vrouwen en meisjes aan te trekken naar de academische wereld in traditioneel eerder ‘mannelijk’ getinte richtingen. Door enkel negatieve verhalen te tonen schrik je meisjes eerder af, terwijl het volgens mij juist nodig is om ze een realistisch beeld te geven en ze te wijzen op de kracht van vrouwen.

Story Signed by: Tegenwind

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