Professor

From Anonymous:

I am a full professor (female) at a top ten math department, and have been nearly 20 years. I’ve seen my share of sexism, but recently something new (to me) is increasing and I wanted to share it. As we know, individuals sometimes behave dramatically differently towards some people than others. Just this semester, I have been aggressively approached by two (male, undergraduate) students, both of whom were very demanding of my time and attention, arguing about points in a loud voice, blaming me for their failure to understand, and not listening to me when I tried to explain. With one, I was actually concerned enough to consider calling security, as he was very agitated and verbally aggressive. He also intimidated a fellow student out of my office hours with his dominating questions, and it was very difficult to get him to wait his turn, to calm down, to let me and others speak. At first, I interpreted the situation as just bad luck with off-the-wall students, so I was very surprised when I when I mentioned this to two of my male colleagues, who were both very surprised, saying that these particular students are extremely deferential and respectful, almost fawning, towards them *always.* I have never had a problem throughout my career with male disrespect in my classroom, possibly because I come off very strong and confident, though I know from discussions with female colleagues that many have experienced it, some on a regular basis. In my case, both students are from the same cultural (non-American) background, and I wonder if a difference in attitude towards men and women in their home countries is part of the explanation. My university has dramatically increased the number of transfer students from their country, and so I know not all (or even most) male students from this background behave this way. Indeed, some are great kids who have been some of my favorite students. Still, the experience was unpleasant enough that I am actually seriously considering from now on requesting to teach courses which have fewer numbers of transfer students. I worry a lot about the effect on our female undergraduates of having these two students in their classes: imagine how the must be treated if a *professor* is fair game for this kind of attempted “puffing up one’s chest” intimidation.

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