From Anonymous:

The Mathematics Department lounge was a meeting place for graduate students and faculty.  It was normal to find people working on projects or eating lunch together. One day while working with a group of fellow graduate students, a group of professors came in and started eating lunch.  This was very normal, at times their conversations were enlightening or amusing, but this day they proceeded to discuss their belief that females are not as naturally gifted in mathematics and talked about their students as examples.  Listening to this conversation was both horrifying and demeaning.  It made me realize no matter how well I did in class, my professors would never see me as being as good a mathematician as my male counter-parts.  This was not a recent occurrence; it happened in 2006, but it had a large impact on my decision to leave graduate school with just my masters.


  1. While pregnant with my second child an upper management colleague walked in the lab and as a “joke” asked my boss in front of me if my baby was his, because of course the lady scientist must be fucking the boss. At this point I was over 30, holding a PhD, and in a management position. My boss, who was also a great friend, and I were so stunned we didn’t respond. I still feel ashamed I that didn’t raise hell and tell the dude to fuck off. I wish I had walked out and never came back, but I felt I had to keep cool and get my work done. I still meet people who ask me about my old “colleague,” and I pretend to have fond memories. Even a mid-career female scientist cannot risk being perceived as an uptight shrew who can’t take a “joke”.


  2. I had to have this conversation before I’d had coffee, at breakfast, with a group of senior mathematicians at a conference. Maddening. (I was a PhD student at the time. This was 2011.)


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