6 thoughts on “A Cautionary Tale for Women in Academia

  1. Is that you, French Doc? Where have you been? Anyway, thanks for the link, and let me know if you have any advice or thoughts to share about these sorts of problems.

    I once thought that this happened to me because I was young. I’m not so young any longer, and it’s still happening! (Moreover, my correspondent this week had never met me, so he didn’t know if I am 30, or 70, or somewhere in-between.)

  2. Yup, that’s me.

    My female colleagues and I have had these kinds of interaction, especially with online students. Somehow, not having to face the person provides some sort of exemption from social norms of communications. The Toobz bring out the Douchebags, I say.

    When female students do it and get called on it, they usually apologize quickly.

    Like some of your commenters, it was clear that it was not a case of “undergrads unfamiliar with formal communication” (which can lead to some humorous examples, as often related by Angry Professor) but rather “big jerk with a sense of entitlement WRT women.”

    Personally, I like to establish myself as bitchy right off the bat and it tends to work.

    But, especially if you’re in a rather conservative area, there’s no avoiding a few conservatives who love to lecture professors as to what they should do.

  3. Hi, SocProf:
    Just to add to the converstaion, when I was an adjunct sharing an office with a male professor, no one EVER thought I was his secretary; no student simply assumed that a woman in the office would be delighted to take down long, complicated messages for a man; no student ever thought that interrupting a woman while grading papers was a problem. :)

    The issue became so disruptive that the male professor actually had to announce to his classes that I was not his secretary and he would not accept messages that students have tried to leave with me.

  4. Sydney’s experience is really disturbing. I wonder: did they listen when a man told them to knock it off? (Don’t bother answering–I think I already know what Sydney will say.)


  5. Hi French Prof and all:
    I love how the guy waited until after he got all of his questions answered and then complained about being mistreated.

    I’ve been part of a women’s literature list serve since the early 1990s, and I’m often surprised by how many graduate students/professors email us asking for information that they could find out for themselves. I kind of thought this guy was in that category.

    Sometimes it’s just plain old laziness. Like when men or women write us asking, “Does anyone know of any novels about slavery in America?” Or, “I’m teaching/researching/writing/dissertating on women’s poetry. Any suggestions?”

    I’m surprised anyone replies to those anymore. It’s like we’re the homework help line.

    Historiann went above and beyond with class.

  6. Well, hello there, MP… “Homework help line”… yup, sounds about right. Easier than Google because we return non-random answers (our algorithms are more accurate if slower).

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