In my last post, I described a resistive load that women and minorities face in academia. I had two very interesting and insightful comments. Thanks for that. I would love for people to comment and keep the discussion going. Both commenters brought up something far worse than resistance to forward progress. They both mentioned sexual harassment and even abusive behavior.
The hardest thing for me to deal with in my faculty career, to be painfully honest, is not the occasional rejection of papers or proposals, not incompetent administrators or demands of unreasonable department chairs, not getting the cold shoulder from colleagues. It is facing the ugly reality that sexual harassment occurs on my campus. Even in the 21st century, older men too often attempt to use their power and authority to gain sexual access to younger women. I have seen with my own eyes the emotional and career damage that results and –even worse– the reluctance of the victims to report.
Women are not fragile flowers who need 24/7 body guards to keep us safe as we work alongside and under the supervision of men. But we do need a better means to stop the misbehavior of university faculty who misuse their power and authority in a way that threatens the well being of female students, postdocs and staff.
Perhaps this is not the kind of “resistance” you were thinking about, but I suspect that sexual harassment in the STEM workplace has affected more women than you might think.
Social Scientist said:
Needless to say, the system is deeply gendered and raced, and not unrelated to the sexual harassment that women continue to endure (see Robin’s comment). One of the eminent (male) faculty members in the BILU grad program I attended in the 70s actually invited a female classmate to join him and a group of male grad students in a gang bang (yes, his own words). Things are subtler now, but the attitudes of entitlement (and chauvinism, racism, misogyny, etc.) inherent in the system remain–in part because they’re shared by some of the non-white males who made it, because they’d rather try to feel like members of the club (even if they really aren’t, quite) than wannabes.
I would like to discuss strategies to deal with this type of thing. What do people recommend? I have recently written a post about harassment. And there was a good post of TenureSheWrote, too. Should female grad students and undergraduates to go to female faculty? That puts a lot of stress on the female faculty. What if the female faculty member is still pre-tenure and feels that she cannot speak freely without risking her career? What is the faculty member is an older woman, but she is unwilling to listen? Are their organizations on campus that can assist? It would be helpful for readers to chime in with their ideas.
Oddly, just days after posting my original post about the SexualHarassingEmeritusFaculty, he died. Some senior members of the department decided to use faculty meeting time to have a reflection time for him. My HusbandOfScience emailed the entire faculty to ask how long the reflection time would take, because he would like to actively BOYCOTT the memorial service. I told several of my senior male colleagues that I would also be boycotting because of the Sexual Harassment this man imparted. So, I outed this harasser after death. It feels a bit unsatisfying, though. I should have done more.
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