Month: August 2014

From Anonymous:

The “Advisory Group” in my department was debating the make-up of a committee to formally review our Department.  Such committeee are usually made up of very senior academics from the University as well as national and/or international externals.  I kept on suggesting senior women I had served on high-level University committees with.  None seemed acceptable. My Head of Department said things like “We should just get a committee of intelligent people”. (Subtext: no need to balance on gender or anything else). Senior colleague Y  said, by e-mail, regarding the women I suggested “I would prefer person X over any of the women.”  I blew up at this.  Eventually Y said to me: “I am not anti women, I am just anti people I do not know.” I was so shocked by this that I did not reply. But it will bother me for the rest of my working life, I think – certainly while Y is still a colleague.

From Anonymous:

A colleague asked me to be a senior researcher on the proposal he and colleagues were writing for NSF. I was confused because the topic had nothing to do with my research. He explained that they needed a senior woman on the proposal for diversity reasons. Oh. I declined, wondering how many other invitations that I had received for visits, lecturerships, collaborations … were for that reason, and felt my confidence slipping away.

From Anonymous:

I was at a meeting about how to stimulate more research in the institution with three other male faculty, one being the vice dean. The vice dean had to excuse himself to another meeting for a while. Upon getting up to leave he turns to me and asks if I wouldn’t mind taking notes on the discussion. The first thing that crosses my mind is that I was asked to be note-taker because I’m the only female in the room. I turned to him and asked, “are you asking me to take notes because I’m the only female present?” He stumbled over his response saying, “oh no no no, you don’t have to.” I said “no it’s ok” and turned it into a joke. I was offended though and didn’t end up taking notes.

From Anonymous:

I nervously walked into my promotion review meeting with the chair of my department in anticipation of my review. As I sit down I notice he glances at my chest. I blow it off as an awkward moment, but it felt uncomfortable. As he is going over the review he glances at my chest several more times. I found it distracting and wondered how he could not possibly know that I am completely aware he is checking out my boobs the entire time. What he doesn’t realize is that I will never be able to think of him in any other way as a human with very little tact and self-control. The rest of the world knows him as an esteemed scientist. Go figure.

From Anonymous:

Last semester I took an introductory level computer science course. I was one of three women in the room of around 50 students. We had one TA, who would communicate with male students, laugh at their jokes, compliment their coding. Whenever I asked him a question, he would deny the validity of the question and then start yelling at me. One day, I was confused about how to deal with input to function prototypes, so I asked him about it. He interrupted me mid-sentence and said, “No”. He started talking about how it was “wrong”. He would not let me finish my question, let alone answer it. I decided to end our exchange, so I told him “Okay, thanks.” He glared at me and sneered, “Do you even know what a function is?”. I am a senior and a math major. I said, “Yes”. He scoffed, muttered “Yeah, right…” and walked away.

I was only able to successfully ask him one question that entire semester, when I was sitting next to another, very serious, female student and he had to deal with us both as a unit.

From Anonymous:

When I started grad school, a (female) staff member told me – if you go into Prof X’s office, don’t let him shut the door behind you. She elaborated. So, I knew that I and the other female grad students could not discuss science with Prof X in the same way that the male grad students could. That Prof X would not be thinking about science if we went to him for discussions. And Prof X was the THEE big shot in our dept. So, I understood right from the start – you are not equal. You will not have the same opportunities here.