Thursday, June 12, 2008

Not even out of the gate yet.

I was still at home when I got an email that I can only file under sexual harassment.

Not actionable, I don't think, but definitely not the sort of shit I should have to deal with at work.

This was before 9 AM.

The person who sent it is, I'm sure, totally unaware of how inappropriate it is.

And I am not in a position to do anything about it.

I had kind of already given up on today turning out like I had hoped. And then I had the whole ride to work to think about how much it pissed me off.


Number of times so far this month that someone has asked me how my job search is going:
~ 20.

They ALL ask "Why not?" when I say I'm not applying.

Eventually I am going to start screaming uncontrollably when asked.

That day might be today.

Too bad I need to meet with my advisor today too. I am having that FUCK IT ALL, I WANT TO QUIT!!!! feeling.

Maybe it will pass. Hopefully it will pass before I do anything stupid.

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At 1:22 PM, Blogger Becca said...

I humbly suggest you write a mean reply email to harrasser, but not send it. If it's not too incredibly incriminating, post it here.

At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

many hugs. I'm going through "issues with my tone" to a male wackaloon at the moment. I keep asking myself if it will get any easier? I think that means no, since I keep wondering. Hang in there.

At 1:42 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

oh becca, it's such great blog fodder only if i can include the detailed response as to why exactly what was said is just so completely WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY THINKING WHEN THEY SAY THINGS LIKE THIS???

I just wish I could come up with the male version so I could use it as a comeback. There is no such thing for men.


hugs to you too.

At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freudian slip of the week: "and we had to get a pen from a girl to write it down".

At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe you need a break. take a short vacation and come back harder. everyone needs to get away from the same old routine and recharge themselves from time to time.

At 9:35 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Managed to not scream at advisor.

Goal for the next week:

to not rant about advisor or "the system" or how fucked up it all is to every random person who talks to me.

At least until this phase of the moon passes.

Still don't have a politically correct spiel to answer these job questions, though. Really need something I can just say by rote to avoid being at all honest.

I've reached the point where I'm tempted to say something sufficiently outrageous to signal the end of the conversation like:

"I have decided to run away and join the circus."

[cue crickets]

I think I could pull off enough of a deadpan delivery that it would have the effect I'm looking for.


I worry that might not be outrageous enough. I might have to say something more along the lines of:

"I've weighed my options and concluded the only way I'll have steady work is as a stripper."


"I'll be working as the manager of a firing squad that shoots people who ask career-related questions of postdocs."

I want jaw-on-floor shocking conversation killers.


At 5:05 AM, Blogger JaneB said...

Lots of sympathy! Can imagine a few options for that dodgy email...

I don't know about 'jaw on floor' reactions but I often tell people that I'm "waiting excitedly to hear about my application to Tesco" (supermarket chain) or "just hanging around until I inherit" (without specifying what I might inherit...).

Though the way the rumour mill works here, who knows what that turns into? One day a colleague was looking very down - I asked him what was up, he said he thought that he had 'flu and was leaving immediately to go home. Clearly he said this to a couple of people... because by lunchtime our resident wooden spoon on legs was excitedly running around the building telling everyone 'in confidence' that this colleague had resigned to become a pilot!!

At 5:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

were you one of the few grad students who never got asked this is question? (rather, "when are you going to graduate?") i'm starting to think that was the only real training i got in grad school. (rimshot)

i have encountered this line of questioning so many times before. when are you graduating? when are you getting a REAL job? when are you getting married? when are you going to buy a house? have your first kid? second kid?


At 7:54 AM, Blogger Becca said...

"My experience in academia has inspired me to join the Army... I have a new desire to shoot people"

"I've decided to become a ballerina unicorn"

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde said...

It's not as shocking as any of your suggestions, but one of my past colleagues, after he graduated, went to work as a park ranger for a while. That tended to stop conversations cold, at least after the shocked, "So, uh, uh, which park?"

At 1:52 PM, Blogger butterflywings said...

Wow, sexual harrassment is NEVER acceptable. Are you sure it's not actionable? I can understand why taking action would seem like a waste of time and energy, though.

Would write a VERY rude e-mail back, basically saying NEVER speak to me like that again, EVER. But that's just me.

Sympathies. Patriarchy sucks.

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Unbalanced Reaction said...

It still shocks me that people will put stupid shit in emails. I guess some forget that that is the same as the written record.

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous ancient physics postdoc said...

I find that the best way to answer annoying questions is with a question. You could try "Have a guess - how do you think my applications might be doing?" (No need to tell them you aren't applying - they would know this already if it was any of their business.) If the person tries to get out of guessing you say "Oh but you have to guess. Otherwise it's no fun." Then when they guess something just ask why they guessed that, and then keep asking `why' to their reasons... Make the experience as annoying for them as it is for you!

At 2:35 PM, Anonymous been there, survived with scars said...

I agree with butterflywings - sexual harrassment is NEVER acceptable. Never. AND you CAN have some control over how you handle it. I'm so sorry you are going through this. Remember, you are not the problem so take a response route that is above reproach. It is absolutely mandatory in dealing with jerks like this to document, document, document. Keep everything they send and at the end of each day send yourself an email. I know it is overwhelming, may feel like overkill, and takes some time but it is so important to have times and dates and descriptions from the moment they happened and not general recollections. Please seriously consider this option. Putting it in writing also helps so that you aren't holding on to all of that pissed-off-ness that happens in situations like this. Consider talking to someone further up the food chain, even realizing they might be ambivalent, your responsibility is really only to report it. After you have spoken to someone in authority THEY are then responsible for that information whether or not you choose to file an official complaint. I used to think that "this is just the way things are in academia" but I know so many women that have been through this I really believe that if we start supporting each other (instead of abandoning people so to cover our own rear and not anger anyone) and help each other to make a change. Hang in there. Even if you don't want to pursue this further please, please, please consider emailing yourself daily or everytime a problem comes about and continue to do so for as long as you are in employment there. Look at some of the recent stories in the Chronicle - that guy Bender at UGA for instance - you never know, there could be dozens of women that are waiting for someone to speak up. Again, I'm so sorry. You can and will make it through this

At 10:33 PM, Blogger Gibbiex said...

Regarding the job search, i totally empathize. I've been job searching for the whole postdoc (3 yrs almost). In inverse correlation as to how well the experiments are going. I had a total of two interviews for crappy positions. I settled on a postdoc as mentioned. It's disappointing but i hope in two years i'll have industry relavent experience and am able to make the jump. I want nothing to do with academia whatsoever.


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