Quotes

Title PhD Candidate

Recently, our department announced the list of candidates for a tenure track position. Three out of four candidates were white men. In some fields that might be seen as a success but in the field this position is advertised the absolute lowest estimate for PhDs awarded to females is 44%. I wrote to my department head, who has a reputation for being sympathetic to diversity issues, that I found this disheartening as woman who is about to be awarded her PhD. His response made the situation even worse. Apparently, in order to even invite the single female, the search committee had to lower their standards and open the interviews to four candidates. He further indicated that the department had done all it could to ensure a diverse hiring pool as the committee itself was considered diverse.

Before I wrote to my department head I was disheartened but believed things could change in STEM. Now, I’m second guessing everything about my chosen career path. Will my presence always been seen as lowering the standards to be here?

From Female Programmer

I once heard a startup founder talk about how the gender pay gap is a myth and how women do not experience discrimination, only to then overhear him in private saying how he only hires women so he doesn`t get sued.

Unconscious bias my ass. Men are very well-aware of their sexism.

Title Distasteful Language

From Senior Engineer

I am often the only woman in meetings. In an hour meeting recently I heard the terms “railway pornography” (which I found off-putting, distasteful and highly inappropriate anyway) and “strawman” (back to the 80s) along with being inappropriately referred to as a guy – or excluded due to not being one – on a number of occasions. Plus not being able to get a word in until AOB time.

 

Title Harassed by Postdoc

From Anonymous 

When I started my PhD I thought I had joined a project with a professor. Instead, I was shelled off to do editing for his post doc’s journal papers. This post doc was not American and English was his second language. I was told to meet with him and told he was brilliant. The first few times I met with him it was fine. We had normal professional interactions. Then one meeting he decided to place his hand on my upper thigh. I didn’t know what to do. I was a 22 year old first year PhD student. I was already extremely anxious about my position in the program and my ability to succeed. I thought that it was my mistake, that I had smiled too much when speaking to him. I didn’t say anything. The next time we met he tried to kiss me. I froze. I was absolutely horrified. I blamed myself again and was left feeling embarrassed and ashamed. After that I didn’t respond to any of his emails. I avoided him at all costs. I didn’t even go into the building that he was in for fear of seeing him. That building was my department building. He emailed me repeatedly after that asking where I was and I didn’t respond to any. He found me on both Facebook and Linked In and messaged me asking where I was and if I was OK. I didn’t respond to any. It took me over a year to truest realize what impact he had on my grad school experience. He triggered an ongoing episode of feeling like I did not belong on that campus or in that program. Looking back, I would have tried to report him for harassment.

Title Hostility in High School 

From Anonymous  

NOTE: I’m sure there’s some politically incorrect stuff in here, but I don’t have the time or energy to go back through and analyze everything for proper definitions and such…. Just keep in mind this is coming from a sleep-deprived high school freshman with an inordinate amount of math homework that has not been done.

I’ve just been majorly pissed off, and i guess this is a good place as any to vent…
Reading through these stories, I’ve realized that even though the climate of women in the workforce is changing (the #METOO campaign for example), it feels like it isn’t changing fast enough to meet that golden 2020 deadline where all our problems will be fixed, yada yada yada.
Growing up, that really is the deadline for pretty much everything for me. I’m a 14 year-old girl, graduate in 2021, and I’ve sort of had the illusion of my own awareness of how bad things are in my career path of choice ripped away. Of course, I’ve seen the effects of the lack of girls in STEM around my school (Girls who code club starting, women coming in to talk in the library, the ratio of around 6 girls to 50 boys in robotics club, etc.), but I haven’t really experienced it on the level that most of these stories are at.
Because in school, you have to play it safe, especially if you’re aiming for college. So people opt for the passive-aggressive option where you aren’t technically saying anything bad about anyone in particular, but it feels like it’s aimed at someone.
I was asked a while ago by my friend in Science Olympiad why i was doing robotics club with a bunch of mysoginistic men. Jokingly, I replied that they weren’t the ones who bossed me around, because I was the one giving orders to them. And in a way, that was and still is kind of true; in less than a year, as an 8th grader (on the high school team…I technically wasn’t supposed be on it haha), I managed to get myself into influential positions on the electronics and programming teams.
And after a sort of unspoken competition/arms race over the summer, mostly with two sophomores, I was announced as the programming team lead about a week ago.
And that brings me to today’s occurrence. I’m not entirely sure of this guy’s intentions, or any context or background, but here’s how I experienced it.
I was working with a programming mentor, one of my friends who graduated as a senior last year and came back to work with the team, when we overhear a conversation between a dude I’ll call Cactus and this other guy (I’ve known him since like 4th grade, he’s cool… I think was dragged into the conversation by Cactus).
Cactus is one of those guys who is only in the club to put on his college apps… He’s technically a programmer, but showed up like…. maybe once per week to work on programming.

Maybe I’m reading too far into this, maybe not. But he was essentially complaining about how feminists were taking up all the spots in STEM and how feminists suck so much, etc. After about a minute of him talking unnecessarily loudly about 5 feet behind me, the mentor turned around and demanded that they stop the conversation b/c it wasn’t an appropriate topic to talk about.
“Are you a feminist?” he asked me, disregarding the mentor.
Caught off-guard by the whole situation, not really expecting such an occurrence to happen, I replied with a simple “uuuuhhhh”
“Not that it’s bad or anything” says the guy who just complained about how annoying feminists are.
“I mean… I believe in equal opportunity for men and women” was my reply. I didn’t necessarily want to state a yes or no because I tend to go about life with half-understandings of words, and have accidentally offended a few people b/c I didn’t realize the full meaning of the word. But after looking it up, yes, a thousand times yes, i am a feminist.
He then went off on a mini-rant on how “yeah, I really hate those 3rd wave feminazis…. I mean, the first and second waves were fine, i guess, but those third wave feminizes… I really don’t like them”

I looked it up.

women’s suffragists are “fine, i guess”?
reproductive rights are “fine, i guess”???
but the movement that redefined the way feminism is seen to include women of all ethnicities and backgrounds is called ‘feminazi’?
what about the fourth wave, do you think that calling men out on sexual abuse is feminazi(ist?), CACTUS? Hmmmm???

Had I known the information I just looked up in a quick google search, I could’ve refuted his evidence-less argument like nobody’s business.

I never felt the need to look this information before, but it seems that Cactus is like me… He does not always understand the full definitions of the words he says. However his message was still there, even with the broad terms that most of society operates under. from my understanding of it, he is a man whose financial security was nearly assured at birth by his gender, social status, and race. He is threatened by the rising competition in the workforce and chooses to lash out at it blindly.

Growing up in this society… where, as cards against humanity puts it, “this month’s mass-shooting” is given nothing more than a glance by the vast majority of the population; where wars are raging far away from home; where the truth is constantly being put into question… It’s tiring to wake up each day, sit through an education system initially designed to make factory-workers, and come home.
Then to go to shop, what I have considered my ‘safe place’, where I can be myself, where I can learn more about how to prepare myself for my dreams. But also where it is considered a triumph when more than seven women are in the same room at the same time, where I constantly look around and realize I am alone in a room of the opposite sex, where unspeakably sexist, racist names were submitted anonymously for naming a f*****g robot, where my friend had to be written up and reported by her own mother because she kicked a person who declared that “women are just slaves to men” (literally… I don’t know who it is, but I have my suspicions… Also, they got written up to so that’s good.).
I look around and I realize that this should not be normal.
This should not be the status quo, where half of the human race is fighting desperately to be heard.
I don’t know if the world will ever be satisfied with its condition, but I certainly don’t like being questioned by people because of my sex, especially by an under-qualified majority of sheep trained to believe they’re better than other people b/c of what’s in their pants.
Because it’s not my fault if I’m “hysterical”, it’s just hard-wired into my brain. (pls don’t think that’s my opinion, I have literally the opposite view, use context clues)
I can’t really think of a good way to end this… my angry adrenaline and self-righteous fury has sort of worn off, so I’ll just leave with a little saying my mom always says:
“The best way to get back at someone is to succeed past their expectations”

You go girls (and guys)! Surpass the wildest expectations of all those toxic people in your lives!

Title Companies who don’t do what they say on their D&I tin

From Demoralized Engineering Manager

I am an engineering manager who moved jobs last year, leaving behind a pay gap that had been thoroughly demoralizing. The new job pays ok, but I am now looking to leave this one due to sexism and and exclusion issues. Both companies claim their D&I credentials are good, but all around me I see men progressing up through the ranks who don’t deserve to be where they are. I have seen two other senior level women drop out of engineering over the last year, and I may go the same way, even after a substantial career in the sector. Are there any decent companies left?

Title Racist misogyny in STEM

From Latina Lab Tech

I used to work in a small laboratory for a small engineering firm. My coworkers, who are all male, are an absolute hell to work with.

Most of them seem perfectly willing to spread racist stereotypes about Hispanic people and then backtrack when I call them on it. One of them actually had the gall to come into the lab with a “Make America Great Again” hat knowing it would piss me off. They also spread the whole “all women in STEM are diversity hires” bullshit over and over. Itmade this workplace extremely hostile for me and forced me to leave.

What made me leave this job however was one time when I overheard my male coworkers discussing their dating preferences. They then started talking about how awesome Latinas are and started spouting misogynistic racism about how Latinas are superior because they’re more submissive. What really got to me is how, at the end, one of them said “Latina ass is worth more than Latina crazy”.

This is an extremely common racist stereotype of not only Latinas but Latinx people in general. The idea that were somehow more aggressive is one of the many reasons Latinos are discriminated against by police. Moreover, labeling aggressive female behavior “crazy” is, as you can guess, sexism.

In my experience, most STEM men deny sexism/racism in their fields not because of “unconscious bias” but because they’re more than willing to engage in it themselves. This notion that white men are somehow unaware of their bigotry seems to me as being profoundly exonerating of some truly nasty attitudes that need challenging.

I’ve never ever met a man in my field that wasn’t at least a little bit sexist. While some actively try to check their privilege, most seem perfectly willing to engage in sexist bigotry even if called out on it.

From Erin

Title It can happen anywhere

I was a 2nd year student, majoring in physics and electronics, on a scholarship. The scholarship required that I work 20 hours a week in the relevant fields, so I was working for a small optics company, doing QA. The company had ~30 employees, and mostly the environment was rather amiable. Then one day, I sat for lunch with the Head of Production, and a couple of guys from his department. What followed was a 15 min conversation about how women never do anything productive, and only waste the money men make.
I was on a first name basis and had decent conversations with all three, and worked constantly with the HoP (and he seemed satisfied with my knowledge and work ethic). You’d think that having an actual, working woman at the table would deter them. It didn’t. Neither did the fact that in this particular company, both the CTO and the Head of R&D were women with Phd’s, and that the all of QA and half of Special Orders were WOMEN.
When I tried to confront them, they claimed to be joking, and then continued on as if I’m not there. I finished eating as fast as I could, and spent the next 10 min crying in my office from the humiliation.