Month: September 2014

From Anonymous:

I was at a large outdoor departmental party attended by grad students, postdocs and faculty. I’m sitting at a picnic table with three other men and one woman, a new postdoc who arrived just weeks before. A full professor walks toward us with a chair in hand, apparently intending to sit at the head of the table. When he arrives and notices the attractive new postdoc, he sets the chair down, leaves it empty, sits right next to her and starts chatting with a warm smile. It wasn’t overtly flirtatious, but the signal was clear: I’m open to wherever this goes. In other contexts I wouldn’t find this disturbing, but at a first departmental party it felt predatory.

It’s dangerous to meet your idols…

From Anonymous:

I was excited to get into a certain grad program given some of the faculty there were quite notable in my field. In fact, when I was an undergrad, I went to a conference, bought one of the professor’s books and shyly asked him to sign it. He was a legend in the field so to me he was a rock star. I ended up getting into the program and this was the most exciting time of my life. Two months into the program there was a departmental party. This professor was there and at one point came over to me and my female classmates to chat (with a drink in his hand). His presence made me nervous, I couldn’t believe he was coming to chat with us. I don’t recall the nature of the entire conversation, only at one point him turning to my classmate and saying, “Hey why don’t you take your top off and run up and down those stairs.” Feeling stunned and in disbelief about what just happened, we just nervously laughed and slowly moved away from him.

I felt like an idiot for having idolized a guy who turned out to be an old, ill-mannered pig.

Creepy Office Hours

From Anonymous:

In order for this story to make sense, I need to first mention:

1) I once lived in a war zone where I worked as an amateur photojournalist. Because it is such a contentious region (call it region C), I do not bring it up in professional conversation. If you google me, though, you will find evidence of this.

2) Some time before taking the class in question, I was raped. I developed insomnia and, when I started this class, I had not been able to sleep for more than 2-3 hours a night for almost 9 months. Unsurprisingly, my ability form reliable memory was devastated.

So, I took a class from Prof X (male). On the first midterm, I was unable to remember something very important and so got a D. I made an appointment to go to Prof X’s office and and see if it would be possible for my grade to recover. Once I got there, he started awkwardly pushing me to talk about region C. It felt personal and inappropriate but I eventually let on that I had lived there, and he mentioned that he had, too. I tried to change the subject back to academics, but I could not shake the feeling that he had googled me. Because the tone had become so personal and predatory, I did not feel safe enough to tell him why I had failed the test. Instead, I left as soon as I could without explanation, and never went back to his office hours.

Over time, he became patronizing and very subtly hostile to me, speaking to me like I was a child, “accidentally” taking points off of my grade, making me do extra work to win back partial credit for test questions which — he admitted! — I had convincingly argued were not wrong. It all began to add up, and I felt so vulnerable that it was hard to focus on the material. I wound up with a B when I could certainly have achieved higher. Hell, maybe I did, I never actually found out if he added up the point total for my final correctly.

Eventually I told a senior female faculty member in his department about it and she started telling me what a nice guy he is, before helpfully realizing, “maybe it’s different because you’re young.”

Typical female, all wrong!

From Anonymous:

This happened during a seminar in our department. Professor X (male) gave a talk on his research result. At the end of the talk, I (female) asked him a question on some aspect of his result, suggesting a possible way to further study the problem. Professor X replied with a big gesture. “All wrong. Just like my wife (who is a house wife), can only come up with this kind of idea, way off. Typical female, all wrong.”

I was so shocked of his insulting words that I froze. What’s worst is that all other females in the audience all remained silent, and a couple of male faculties laughed out loud, “Haha, that’s funny.”

Do you think it is funny?

May I suggest that, if such a scene shall happen again in the future (and surely it will!), everyone in the audience shall stand up! Every female and every supporting male, please stand up and stare at Prof X.


From Anonymous:

I read a few stories on here and found myself saying, “oh I bet I know who wrote that one” to every story. Then it occurred to me I couldn’t possibly know every person who submitted every anonymous story on some random website. Instead, I realized these occurrences happen so much that we all know someone who had a similar experience.


From Anonymous:

I read many shocking stories here and here is mine. I was on the job market several years ago. Got interviewed in several places, including one in ivy league. I did not get an offer from them and was a bit surprised, since by that time I was more advanced then the job that they were offering. Next year after this interview I met a guy, who was on the hiring committee and discussed my case. He apologetically explained, that they did not hire me because they thought that my husband would not be able to find a job around.

Fortunately I ended up in a better department. But it turned out that at the department where I’ve been hired also discussed my personal life. Nobody from the committee knew that I am married, so it turned out well…

I think this is the high level of sexim in academia: committees care about poor husbands, what if they would not be able to find a job. That would ruin all their principles. It is not acceptable that the wife has a success and the husband stays at home cleaning a house.

Next time you will be on the committee and hear that this kind of conversation starts: STOP it! Stop it before you will end up discussing how regular the applicant in her periods is!

…and for those that actually end up discussing somebodies personal life on a committee, keep in mind: I am watching you.

It’s just a joke.

From Anonymous:

Share Your Story: A couple of years ago, someone (unidentified) wrote a female insulting joke on the blackboard of the biggest seminar room in our department. The joke concluded that all females are evil. I (female) was outraged. When I told this to a male colleague, he said, “Come on, it’s just a joke.”

Letter of Recommendation

From Anonymous:

I worked as an undergraduate RA for 1.5 years in a male professor’s lab. After graduating, I took a full time RA job at a nearby institution. Knowing I was planning to apply to graduate school, I did my best to stay in contact with the professor from my undergraduate institution in a professional yet friendly manner.

Shortly before applications were due, I asked if he would like to get coffee or lunch to discuss my application, as he had agreed to write me a letter of recommendation. He instead suggested dinner at a bar/restaurant near his home. At dinner, he insisted on buying me drinks, and continued to order several rounds throughout the evening. During dinner, he commented on my appearance multiple times. Afterwards, I thanked him for dinner and said I would be walking to the subway station. He told me that the subway was closed and that I should sleep on his couch. I knew the subway wasn’t closed and suggested I try to catch a train or a cab, but he insisted. Reluctantly, I went back to his home, where he raped me.

One week later, he sent me several sealed copies and one unsealed copy of a glowing letter of recommendation.

From Anonymous:

During a didactic session on career development for the all-female pre-doc intern class…

Senior Male Faculty: You should all put your marital status and number of children on your C.V.s when you apply for jobs.

Me [female, pre-doc intern]: Why?

Senior Male Faculty: Because that’s what people really want to know.

From Anonymous:

I was meeting with two (male) professors to work on a joint paper. One handed me a copy of his latest tables. After discussing my parts of the paper, we turned to those of the first professor but I was the only one with a copy of his tables. Both were surprised I had not made copies of the first’s latest tables. Since both of them have offices on that floor, they have codes for the copier, while I do not. Does being the only female in a group give me the responsibility and magical ability to make everyone copies?