Professor GN

I am a female professor, a very successful scientist and teacher, and I am also a mother. I earned tenure and have been promoted in spite of having a critically ill infant, a miscarriage, and an adopted child. My department is about 50% female. In a 6 week period a couple of years ago, I heard the following comments from male professors in my department:

1. About a highly qualified candidate, “I’m not going to hire her because she has young kids and she won’t be willing to travel for this job”. When I pointed out that this was illegal and that the candidate should be asked about her willingness to travel, I was told “I didn’t say that” I have a witness. This man is a father.WTF ??

2. Male colleague said, “I met with a graduate student who has multiple children. Her resume was great. I don’t know how serious she will be so I am no longer interested”. When I said that this is illegal, I was met with silence. The student is exceptional and has received many awards in addition to being an involved mom.

3. Discussing a staff member who is very competent, my colleague said “We’ll see what she is like AFTER she has the baby.” This man is a father. Does competence get thrown out with the placenta ?

4. Several dismissive comments about a highly productive female colleague who had a third child—as if there is an allowable threshold for fertility in academia. Nasty Comment made by a male professor with the *same* number of children.

Reflecting on all of these statements, I cried in frustration. It is not enough to have a family and still kick ass at work—you may still be seen as a slacker because you have created another human inside your body. I wanted to scream “Don’t you know that I have a uterus, you jackass, and I am not afraid to use it?!” These men are not ignorant pigs. They would consider themselves supportive of women’s equality. These comments were offered so casually, that I think that the speakers did not even see them as offensive in any way. It felt very cruel to me and I never thought I would be dealing with overt sexism in the 21st century.