Tag Archives: University


The male conductor of a university student orchestra wanted the male members of the orchestra to escort the female members of the orchestra up the aisle of a church onto the stage at a concert. All the women in the orchestra reacted to this is in different ways- anger, a sense of feeling put out, some were perplexed, confused…- they said things like “we’re not that pathetic”. All the women I spoke with identified with the sexist quality of this action. All members of the orchestra refused to do it.


I once new a guy who dropped out of a journalism college course that he worked fairly hard to get into and waste a year of his life because he didn’t want to do the feminism theory that the course required. I mean, we ALL have parts of our education/work that we do not like to do, but we do it anyway. It’s called being an adult. I used to live with him and I heard first hand about how he didn’t want to do it because he felt it was “a total waste of time” to learn about something as “useless” as “bitch” theory. His ingrained misogyny led him to throw away a qualification and a whole year of his life without a second thought. No one else seemed to think there was anything TOO wrong with this… Yeah… I’m not friends with him anymore, as you might imagine…


Going out in a club, trying to fight across a crowded dancefloor and a guy grabbing my boob. At 21 saying to the guy I was seeing that I was on my period and therefore didn’t want to have sex and him saying ‘I don’t care’ and pulling my legs apart. Going out for dinner with two of my colleagues and listening to them talking about ‘taking girls to pieces’.

Emma jean

I went to an engineering open day with my school, and there was a male speaker. He was talking about how more women should consider going into engineering, which is good, but he said, “you’ll be surprised to hear that women do very good at engineering, as good as men.” I don’t think people should be surprised to hear that.


At university, we were allocated supervisors to mentor us through our dissertation. Half way through mine, sitting looking down a microscope at results with my tutor, he ran his hand along and up my leg. I stopped him but it meant I did not put myself in a situation where I would be alone with him again. This meant I couldn’t discuss the work and was in a vulnerable position because he was marking it.


Colleague (male) sent by email a news article about the lack of women in economics. He only sent it to the women economists in the department. I wrote back to say (kindly) that we are already familiar with the problem and it is the responsibility of all economists to address the gender imbalance in the discipline. I recommended that he send it to the entire department. All of this was very politely phrased. He wrote back and said I was right – then asked me to send out the article to the department. I wrote back, ‘no, thank you.’


Studying to become electrician, antiquated teacher says to me ‘You’re going to have to be twice as good as the men to get a job’. Also after answering a question incorrectly he told me ‘You must have the wrong hair colour’ (My hair is red/brown) I was also the only female in the classroom. There was one decent male in the class who complained to another teacher about the sexism I received. He is a hens tooth of the male species, so rare.


At my college in cambridge we all live on site as a close community. I went to a college party-a ‘bop’ as we call them-and a man in the year below me was dancing way too close to me and breathing on my neck. When I turned round and told him to back off he scoffed and two minutes later reached his hands up the back of my top and round the front and grabbed my breasts quite hard. I literally screamed and ran away but none of his friends reacted. I was shocked and frightened because bops are held on campus and therefore in my home. For the next week I felt scared to be at home and completely unsafe-I was terrified of bumping into him and when I reported it I was so scared to use his name because of the backlash I’d get-everyone here knows everyone. I couldn’t go to the college bar to get a coffee or eat in the cafeteria and I found it hard to sleep. I can’t believe in somewhere like a university full of strong young minds I felt so silenced, but I did. When I eventually took it higher and reported it in support of the need for compulsory consent workshops, senior staff said the consent workshops might be ‘worrying’ for people from conservative backgrounds or people who have never had sex before. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t seem to see that such attitudes cause people to completely disrespect and feel automatic ownership of women’s bodies, like that boy did at the bop to me. It made me feel blamed, ashamed and like spoilt goods.


A few days ago, my university held a huge career fair, where literally hundreds of tech companies and start-ups came to interview and recruit students. I overheard a student talking to another one about a friend who was pregnant and was having a really difficult time getting a job offer. He said the interviewers often mentioned something along the lines of, “If we hire you, you’re going to give birth in a few months, and then you won’t be able to work. So why should we hire you?” My mother had given birth to me when she was in grad school, and I remember hearing stories from her about how she’d faced similar criticisms when she went for job interviews. I was 2-3 years old at the time, and employers would often consider her ineligible for a job because she had the burden of a child and/or a husband – “You have a young baby?/You’re married? Oh, so that means you can’t travel? Then we can’t hire you.” Also, she was an international student / immigrant, so sometimes the interviewer would accuse her of wanting the job just for the green card. It occurred to me that I was hearing about young women – smart, talented women who attended one of the best technical institutes in the world – facing the exact same problems that my mother did when she was a graduate student. It has been almost 25 years, a quarter of a century. Why does it seem like things haven’t changed much at all?


I had a male friend in high school for whom I did not have romantic feelings. He started alternating between asking my best friend and me on dates and to dances, and began making awful sexist comments. He talked inappropriately my body and the bodies of other girls, and refused to stop when I told him how uncomfortable it made me. He also insisted that we would be in a future relationship no matter how many times I told him “no”. At one point he refused to delete an album full of pictures he had taken of me at school without my knowledge or permission. He said he they were for “personal use”. In one class, he sat next to me, and he kept reiterating that he wanted to have sex with me. This whole experience distracted me from my studies, as I was constantly worried about avoiding him. It’s frustrating that some people don’t understand what “no” means. I’m worried for the girls he is interacting with now.