Month: September 2014

Shallow brooks…

From Anonymous:

I went to a conference outside of my field to network and find new collaborators with a specific expertise. The conference was in a heavily male-dominated field. When I met people they would ask me what I do, then upon telling them, they would lecture me about THEIR theories regarding my area of study, most of which were very laymen and not empirical at all. Almost everyone I talked to seemed more interested in sharing their uninformed theories about my field than hearing about my views as the expert in the room. I barely got a word in on most exchanges, at least not without blatantly interrupting to get a chance to speak. I was hoping to meet some collaborators but really just ended up listening to a bunch of blowhards.

Oh and this happens at cocktail parties too. Routinely.

That reminds me…shallow brooks are often noisy.

Helpful Feedback

From Anonymous

I was told ask a senior male colleague (full professor, former administrator) to observe my teaching and provide some feedback during my first semester. He agreed, took copious notes, and let me know to stop by to discuss his feedback. He provided a fairly balanced (and specific) list of comments, in writing. Except for “two minor points.” One was a typo on my slide. The other was:

“You might want to think about the length of your skirt. It might be distracting for the boys in the class, especially when you’re bouncing around up there. Might be hard for them. The girls, I don’t know. Up to you, but you might want to think about it.”

My response: “Okay….”

There are MUCH better ways to handle this situation if you believe that it is a legitimate issue. Not sure why he chose to use one as demeaning (and dismissive of my teaching abilities/efforts) as this one.

Work Life Balance

From Anonymous:

During a professional development seminar, a male professor was talking with our internship cohort about the pros and cons of doing a post doc before going on the job market versus going straight into a faculty job.

He made the comment: “Your quality of life is going to be terrible until you get tenure – so just get used to the idea of working 24 hours a day for those first several years.”

When we perpetuate the idea that work life balance is an unreasonable goal, or that having a life outside of work will lead to failure, we are pushing women out of academia.

Actually, we are pushing men out too, but I think this impacts women to a greater degree.

From Anonymous:

My professor singled me out, because I was special, obviously. He would talk to me for hours. It wasn’t until later that I realized it was because I was the only one stupid enough to listen to him going on and on about himself. His anger started when I began having my own scientific ideas that were not a reflection of his. It got worse when I wanted to participate in a project that he was not involved in, which I gave up, to prove to him how much I loved him. The abuse started when I wanted to go to a grad school that he did not go to.

From Anonymous:

I am on our department’s graduate program committee and am slated to be the graduate program director (GPD) and head of the committee next month. We are planning some big changes for the program, largely in response to an external review committee’s assessment of it. I have been thinking for over one year and communicating with colleagues here and at other institutions about the relevant issues. I have solicited input from all of my colleagues in order to address all their concerns and attempt to meet their needs. In particular, I sent an email with a rough idea for program revision asking for feedback.

One colleague, a very bossy white male, disagrees with some of my ideas and can’t stand that he is not on the committee. He suggested that for these important decisions, the graduate committee be joined by another committee, one whose purpose is to plan future hires. I told him that this made no sense, but that I could guess why he liked the idea. It seems he didn’t read that very closely because his next email to me mansplained very clearly why he wants the other committee included—because he is on it and wants “input”. As I said, I have actively (verbally in faculty meetings and through emails to all faculty) solicited input. He added that he was the GPD eleven years ago and didn’t feel like he had enough control over decisions that were made just previous to that. Poor guy. Let’s compensate him now by letting him control a committee that he is not even on.

Implicit bias

From Anonymous:

At back-to-school night, I listen to my child’s teacher describe her teaching philosophy, class activities and so on. This woman is a veteran, 28 years of experience, speaks with poise and authority. She is caring and thoughtful, but definitely commands the room. At one point I catch myself thinking, “She’s a little bossy.” Then I feel like an ass. Because I teach too, with half the experience, less empathy and more bravado. My student evaluations consistently say things like “commands the subject”, “an expert”. Never bossy.

Building a lab or a harem?

From Anonymous:

I was out with a male colleague when he received what seemed to be an urgent call from one of his male colleagues at a different institution. From the sound of the call I could tell his colleague was in trouble with his Dean and it had something to do with a female student. They were discussing ways he could defend himself including making it known how crazy this girl is. Then I heard my colleague telling him not to worry because worst case scenario he could connect him up with a position at another school. When the phone call ended I asked what is going on? He told me his friend’s student told the Dean he slept with her and she was upset about it. He went on to say how while that is true, the girl wanted it and is now being a “headcase” and who knows what kind of trouble she’ll cause. He also disclosed that his friend has slept with 2 other of his students (3 total in his lab) but the others have not filed complaints. As I’m listening to this story I’m completely shocked at how incestuous relationships with students is just business as usual for these guys. Incidentally, the colleague in question never got fired and continues to attempt inappropriate relationships with students. I know this because he later tried to with one of mine. Luckily she put him in his place.

Then I got to wondering how much this guys student selection decisions are based on who he’d like to sleep with and how “lucky” he thinks he can get.

From Anonymous:

At a conference, out of nowhere, and without prior conversation, a well known professor and researcher told me that my husband would appreciate it if I gained weight. I was very sick with anorexia nervosa at the time. I was too shocked to say anything back. My husband since left me, so I guess he was correct. I highly doubt he would have told me the opposite if I had been overweight. He also told me I would never be successful with my voice. I haven’t had the confidence to do a conference oral presentation since.