I recently took a lecturing post and, along with another new colleague, was being introduced to the cohort of undergraduate students. The male colleague was introduced as Dr. [Name], I was introduced only using my first name despite, of course, also having a doctoral degree and the title Dr. In this same university my boss – attempting to praise a recent achievement – put his arm around my waist at a university social event and declared “babe we are really proud of you”. Babe?! Slightly inebriated, he then went on to text me a flirty message complementing my appearance after I had left the party.
I’m a female full professor at a research university in the United States. Two of my male colleagues routinely act as if they are above our process for determining the agendas for meetings, and hijack them at their pleasure. The process is that our support staff sends out a call for agenda items and then the department chair forms them into an agenda. Despite receiving the agenda in writing, these two choose to ignore it and introduce new items without obtaining the consent of their colleagues. When female faculty members whose items (buried at the bottom of the agenda) complain about the situation, the chair brushes them off and won’t use even the most diplomatic of strategies to make sure that everyone is treated fairly, even when the complaining professors outrank the chair. This strikes me as unconscious sexism. Unsurprisingly, the upper administration uses the same marginalizing scripts as the chair when confronted with various complaints from female faculty from across campus. And they wonder why they can’t remain women faculty!
After successfully completing my MA, I applied to the school’s doctoral program.During an interview with the department chair about why I was rejected, she said “apply again after your children are older.” At the time, I was a single mom with three children. I didn’t have the time or resources to hire a lawyer. This injustice ended my chances to be hired at most institutions which require a PhD. I went to work at a high school, a job I hated and then left teaching for a lucrative sales job. I always wonder, “what if.”
I’m currently at an academic conference and I’d like to share a snapshot of my experiences with my advisor from yesterday that make me feel like I am not taken seriously as scientist. I was told that my poster was “cute” (rather than professional and informative), and that I was “a busy girl” during the presentation period (rather than stating people were very engaged in my work). When asked for a picture near my poster I was told to smile more (which I probably would not have been told to do if I were male). I’m sure many would say that I’m overreacting but word choice is important and an atmosphere of implicit gender bias can be just as harmful as blatantly sexist remarks.
As PhD candidate, when your boss expect you to be there to “help” his MSc students do their projects, without any formal recognition for your work. But your male colleagues are considered co-supervisors for doing similar work for other students. No wonder that the CVs of some male academics look much better than those of their female counterparts.
I’m a college professor and I look younger than my age. The other day I was outside the classroom waiting for the previous professor (an older male) to pack up so I could go in and teach my class. Some of my students were already sitting there. He motioned to say it was ok to come in and looked surprised when I placed my things on the table in front of the classroom. He looked me up and down, and then said, “Wow, I thought you were a student. You look too vibrant to be a professor”. I was too stunned to respond. And this sort of comment happens in academia ALL the time.
I am a female full Professor with a Ph.D. at a research university in the United States. A “good old boy” colleague who schmoozed his way to full Professor many years ago despite low research productivity insists on speaking to me in a condescending manner: sometimes (especially after I’ve challenged “good old boy” privilege-taking) he talks to me as if I were an ingenue who needs explanations of the way in which a department in which I have worked for over ten years is run; at other times he issues direct orders, as if he were a supervisor (which he is not) and I were his subordinate (which I am not); when he is asked to negotiate with me as an equal over an issue of shared concern, he insists on making the decision and delivering it to me in writing. Sadly, this behavioral pattern is common at my institution (once, when I chaired a committee at the university-wide level, a colleague of equal rank tried to treat me like a secretary, and doubled down when I called him out on his conduct): and my university’s leadership wonders why there are so few female faculty, let alone full Professors!