Worked at the Center for X-Ray Optics at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Have a math degree and lab tech experience in analytical chemistry. Assumed everyone there would know more than me. There were four female scientists among the entire department of 38 scientists. The man I trained under, only six months my senior, had no degree. His previous experience was working at Zazzle.com’s printing department. He did not know basic algebra and would often say things like “Now we’re doing real math!” after such intimidating calculations as *adding two numbers.*
Sexual harassment from him from day one. Subtle stuff. Oversharing of personal information, interest in my backstory, lewd jokes, etc.
He told me while he was training me that “he wasn’t trying to crack a whip here” and often arranged for me meet up with him for training on the very late side of the morning. Then he reported to my boss I was coming in late and asking too many questions. Got warned and then fired in the probationary period for being late, not demonstrating understanding, not meeting expectations, not using Slack the right way, etc.
My team had the most women (two), so sometimes I think I am imagining the poor gender climate.
From “Stereotypical Female”
“You are a stereotypical female.”
I am a member of my school’s robotics team. There are not very many girls on the team, but that never bothered me because everyone was so inclusive. One of our sponsors is this pair of brothers who are very smart and like to teach kids about STEM. This is great but they make many misogynistic comments to the girls in our team (including myself) and some of the boys. It really does hurt to hear “Women don’t belong in STEM” when you are already trying to make it in a field that is predominately men. Their mindset is so stuck in the past. Women do belong in STEM. Women are just as good as their male counterparts. The problem is men like these two brothers bringing engineer hopeful girls down and discouraging them further. It is not okay. It really is sad that sexism is still so evident in my everyday life. It’s almost as if we’ve gotten nowhere in terms of gender equality. I hope that when I get to college and beyond that the atmosphere is much more inclusive because it’s really not okay.
I’m in a statistics graduate program. I specialize in statistical graphics and data visualization. Today, a fellow grad student asked me a question about how to show some model results in a different way. I made a few suggestions, to which he replied, “That’s actually a really good idea.” The bone I have to pick here is with the word “actually.” Why qualify “That’s a really good idea” with “actually”? It just diminishes my good idea (in a field I’m almost an expert in) and makes it seem surprising that it came from my brain! I like this other student, and I don’t think he was actively trying to diminish me and my ideas. However, this is a microaggression that I face frequently in academia and I find it extremely frustrating. I’m tired of my colleagues sounding so surprised when I have a good idea!
I have been working on the same project with my (male) advisor for over a year and there have been many setbacks. I was blamed for being slow and making mistakes, when in fact, I was the one who would bring up his mistakes but it seems like he never remembers this. He brought in a male grad student to help me, and of course, no progress is made for months. The male grad student likes to sit in meetings, and engage in math-speak with my advisor while I sit in silence, because I am cut off mid sentence every time I try to say something. When the grad student and I are to collaborate, he wants to go for walks or get coffee rather than actually doing the work. He is curious about my life story, whether I “like” anyone, what I like to cook, etc.
Irritated, I decided to avoid the grad student, took a breather, and ended up fixing up the code for the project and got decent results. My advisor’s response was “See? I told you [grad student’s name here] is useful.” I can’t shake this feeling of resentment, and regret. Why is it so hard to believe that I am not an idiot? I feel like I cannot escape from this stupid box that I’ve been put in, completely undermining everything I do.
A word to professors who have genuine intentions to mentor. We look up to you, so please care, and try to notice how hard we work and all the substantial contributions we make.
In my first year of university, I was in a lab in which you had to do the experiment and turn in answer questions at the end. Every week, my lab partner (who was just taking the class for credit) would copy my answers and each week he would somehow get 10% more than me on every assignment. One day, I was finally over it and when I didn’t let him he called me a b*****. The next lab we had, I was really frazzled because my lab partner was being rude (as he wasn’t over last week) and when the lab coordinator came over, he saw me and said “Sweetheart, why don’t you sit this lab out.”
In the mid to late 80’s, when I was a graduate students machine shops routinely had posters and calendars of half naked women posted in the foreman’s office. During a neutron scattering run at Brookhaven National Lab, I walked into the machine shop to request a part for a sample holder, only to see pictures of female genitalia. It was embarrassing in ways that I could not explain to all my male colleagues-in fact it was too embarrassing for me to even bring up!!!!
AND I had to go back time and time again to make sure th part was right.
I am currently an Assistant Professor at a great university in a large coastal cosmopolitan city in the US. But before this, I was at a smaller university in a rainy part of the country, and I was harassed and bullied terribly by one faculty in my dept. I was so naive, because I was 34 years old, and I didn’t think women at that age could be harassed. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But the typical scenario is a 50 yo male harassing 20 year olds, so it never even occurred to me that I could be a target. I had also just gotten married, and its a small dept, so everyone knew I was married. And again I know this sounds so naive, but I just didn’t think anyone would be making those advances and acting that way to someone who was clearly married.
It was without a doubt the worst experience of my professional life. It prompted me to leave the department, and it took some time before I could think clearly, and come out from the fog of depression.
One of my older male coworkers routinely calls me “young lady” and constantly interrupts me wanting to chat while I am working, including when I have headphones in and am clearly busy (were not even on the same project). Today, said coworker who I have repeatedly told I have a pending deadline came in 45 minutes early to instant message me to ask to talk.
Him: “You’ve been cold with me, very short, have I done something wrong?”
Me thinking: Cupcake, it’s not my job to make you feel special and be ‘warm’ towards you, I’m here to work and I have a deadline
Me: “Oh no, I just get in the zone and I have a tough time getting back in when I’m interrupted.
I am so frustrated that, as a woman in engineering, my coworker attempts to guilt trip me into not doing my job to stroke his fragile ego.
A fax came for you
Six years ago, in 2010, I was doing my third internship of my computer engineering program. I had actually been recruited due to excellent performance on my previous internship (with a different group in the same organization), but the man who recruited me had unfortunately changed jobs before my start date. So I didn’t meet my new supervisor until the first day. Let’s call him Alan.
It’s also worth mentioning here that out of the entire team of 30 or so people there was only one other woman, a technical writer. I was the only female in the engineering side of the group.
Anyway, Alan and I didn’t really get along (we were certainly not “friends”) but I just tried to stay professional and do my work. Well, one day Alan came over to my cubicle and said, “Hey, a fax came for you,” and handed me a piece of paper. I was a bit confused (why would anyone send me a fax?) but I took the paper, and he just walked away chuckling with some colleagues. I looked down at the page and saw that it was an advertisement for a professional development opportunity for administrative assistants…
Talk about rage. After that I knew I was never going to be taken seriously by that team. And since then I’ve still struggled to find my place in the tech world.
Three weeks ago I was chatting with my department head in the hall. When I mentioned how tiring it is for a single father to work full-time and raise three kids, he joked: “You have it easy. I have three kids AND a wife!”
This man, the face of our department, makes all hiring decisions. Wonder why we have very few women in our department….