A female professor is apparently not real!

A student who I had supervised for his Master thesis, came to visit after his graduation and stood waiting at my (male) colleague’s office. I asked him what he was doing now and he told me of his plans to study further for which he needed a recommendation letter ‘from a real professor’ which is what he came to see my colleague for. ūüôā

Story signed by: DKL

The story happened to me as a Dr. Prof. in the year(s) 2005-2009 at an academic institution in Flanders

You know you will have to chose between PhD and children, don’t you?

At that time I was a researcher under contract, seriously thinking about doing a PhD. I told it to a male colleague, a young professor, who had graduated 6 months earlier.
He told me, as if it was obvious : “You know you will have to chose between having a PhD and having children, don’t you ?” He was married and his wife stayed at home raising their children. I was young, afraid and absolutely not self-confident. I changed my mind.

It took me a few years and two children to realize that I did not had to chose between family and career. I started my PhD after my second child’s birth and completed it in less that 5 years. Faster than my male colleague.

Story signed by : Professor Myself

The story happened in the year 2000-2004 at an academic institution in Wallonia

Vrouw mocht voorzitter examencommissie niet vervangen

Toen ik jaren geleden secretaris van de examencomissie was, zou ik volgens de gewone gang van zaken de voorzitter vervangen op de plechtige proclamatie, wanneer die niet kon aanwezig zijn. Het Bureau van de Faculteit besloot echter dat dit niet kon “omdat het een plechtige aangelegenheid was waarop ouders kwamen luisteren.”

Toen er meer uitleg gevraagd werd aan het Bureau, stelde de decaan dat er een ongeschreven regel was dat docenten niet publiek konden proclameren en dat hiermee de zaak gesloten was. Het jaar erna stond er een mannelijke docent op het podium ter vervanging van een afwezige voorzitter.

Story signed by : Cad

The story happened to me as a Professor in the year 2000-2004 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

Enceinte … évidement vous ne voulez plus être un professeur à temps plein

Je n’√©tais pas √† temps plein comme acad√©mique et luttait depuis quelque temps pour que mon temps soit augment√©. Ayant annonc√© au Doyen de ma facult√© que j’√©tais enceinte, celui-ci en a profit√© pour me dire: mais quand tu reviens de ton cong√© de maternit√©, tu ne voudras plus √™tre √† temps plein alors ?

Story signed by: Severine Dusollier

The story happened to me as a Dr. Prof. in the year(s) 2005-2009 around an academic institution in Wallonia

“A woman of color must be a member of the cleaning staff”

Moving out of my office to integrate a new one after having been freshly appointed as a professor, I was asked by a new PhD student who had just arrived at my former department whether I could take care of the boxes standing outside in the corridor.

I gave her a bewildred look and realized only shortly after that she had mistaken me for the cleaning staff. I told her that I ‘worked here’ (as if the cleaning personnel did not) and she apologized for her mistake.

While we ended up having a good laugh about the incident, it does show how racially marked and structured our university is that it is almost impossible to imagine a woman of color in any other position than that of a member of the cleaning staff.

This story happened to me as a Dr. Prof. in the year 2012, around an academic institution in Flanders.

“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]

“Professor Mistaken For Secretary”

As a ‘young’ female professor in my late thirties I went to the central research office to personally hand in a research project application file on the day of the deadline (a walk around the corner from my office). The (female) secretary behind the counter looked at the file and said to me: “Is Prof. X abroad because we need his original signature?”. Looking bewildered, “I am Prof. X”, I answered. The secretary was embarrassed of course and I tried to laugh it away a little as did some of her colleagues in the office who had witnessed the incident.

Maybe the secretary was also used to secretaries getting asked to deliver files rather than professors turning up themselves, I do not know…

Bemused rather than deeply insulted, this nevertheless is not an isolated incident. For example, when answering my work phone I always answer “Prof. X” in order not to be taken for a secretary. As I get and look older ‚Äď and more self-confident perhaps ‚Äď these incidents occur less and less, but I believe it is deeply gendered and male professors in the same ‘young looking’ age category on the average do not get the same treatment, both from women and men. The dominant image of the professor seems to remain male ‚Äď white ‚Äď and of a certain age, even today‚Ķ

Story signed by : Pili Pala

The story happened to me as a Prof. Dr. in the years 2005-2009, around an academic institution in Flanders.

“How Are Your Children?”

At the new year’s reception of the faculty, I am telling two female colleagues about repeated personal attacks in public and through the grapevine by a male colleague. All of a sudden one of them asks, out of the blue: “And how are your children?”. Upon which I say: “Fine”.

What to think? Let’s not talk about aggressive behavior by men, too disturbing. Or worse, that behavior is ‘normal’, you’re stressed out because you have care responsibilities‚Ķ

Story signed by : Bittersweet

This story happened to me as a Prof. Dr. in the year 2013, around an academic institution in Flanders

“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.