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.


While pregnant, one of my colleagueas told me that he was sad for my husband, that since I was pregnant I was unbearable. After giving birth I lost 10kg, and now my colleague keeps making references to my weight and how I look so much better tan before.


My daughter works at a homeless shelter for very young parenting or pregnant (or both) girls. I could fill pages with the things men do to these girls. The one that bothered me today: One young guy prevents the girl from using birth control and he won’t use a rubber–so of course she gets pregnant. . . which makes him happy because then he can crow about it to his friends. But then, when she gets a bit too heavy, he oops pushes her down the stairs. She miscarries. And . . . he’s happy again. Repeat ad nauseum. Because he thinks it’s his unquestionable right to treat her that way. Apparently it must be, as nobody ever nails him for it.


Just got cat-called by some builders while walking past on my way to work in central London. I am four months pregnant and was visibly wearing a ‘Baby on Board’ badge. I’m already feeling vulnerable and hormonal, this made me want to go home and cry.

Sarah Cunningham

I’m 6 months pregnant and I commute to work by bike. I’ve been told by colleagues that I need to know my limits and asked “when are you going to stop cycling?” multiple times. Very frustrating!


I came home one day over a year ago and told my parents that I was pregnant, I intended to have an abortion and preceded to do so but as a minor, I needed their legal consent to do so. They weren’t angry at me, largely because they knew I was responsible and already intended to do the ‘right thing’ for my future but it was also because of an utterly ridiculous reason that has stuck with me to this day – They were angry at ‘him’. The guy who had got me pregnant because obviously a girl doesn’t have the initiative to go out and have unprotected sex, it must have been ‘his’ idea. And honestly, I was more shocked than anything else. There was no anger at me, no telling me I should’ve acted responsibly, no asking me why it had happened; just ‘Who is he?’ and ‘I’m going to kill him.’ while I stood completely blameless for my own actions.


Came back to work after a week off work with a pelvis problem related to pregnancy. To find I have no desk or computer since they moved the admin staff to our office. Then I was told by a colleague that my manager thought to save me walking up & the stairs I could sit in reception. So gone from caring for clients & having to ensure deadlines were met to answering the phones & that’s now my only responsibility.