My Name is ShepersistedURM_STEM

attractive beautiful beauty black and white

ShepersistedURM_STEM was sexually harassed by her PI.  She suffers from a chronic condition that could have been caused by rape and often causes her to miss work. ShepersistedURM_STEM declined to provide a photo. Photo by it’s me neosiam on

My Worst Moment: There are many, but one of the worst was when my PI would come to the laboratory and start guessing the bra size of all of his female students and postdocs. During a dinner in which I was introducing the lab to my boyfriend (now my husband), my PI engaged in a ‘game’ that involved asking everyone around the table with whom we would have sex from that group of people.

I Have Given Up On: Teaching people how to pronounce my name and not butcher it, teaching people that one can be a good scientist and a good human being, teaching people that the fact that you care doesn’t disqualify you from publishing impactful papers, teaching people that condescending attitudes do not mean mentoring.

I’m Afraid: … that it is too late for our male graduate students to learn how to interact in an equitable and respectful way with everyone in STEM. I’m afraid that sexual harassers in STEM will continue to be well funded and lauded. I’m afraid that the response will be unequal and there would be pockets of no accountability and immunity for this behavior.

This Has Cost Me: I suffer from a chronic condition that could have been triggered by rape. I lose a lot of work days because of this condition. I have been in therapy for 24 years in three different countries, four different cities and pay for it out of pocket (~100,000 dollars total). Standing up for equity gives me the label of ‘troublemaker’. I never get selected for leadership positions (2 out of 2 times I put my name out there).

Something You Should Know About Me: I am the only one in my family with a college degree (let alone a PhD). I am pathologically optimistic and find the bright side on every single experience. I am a black belt in Karate and I am a pretty darn good singer.

Is There a Bright Side: Yes! This conversation is allowing us to create spaces for change.

My Fight Song: Only one? I have a whole playlist! Some of the English language ones are: This time by Tracy Chapman, Knight Moves by Suzanne Vega, I gotta feeling by the black eye peas, Who’s going to ride your wild horse by U2, Bring it on by Seal, Hammer and a Nail by the Indigo Girls, I’m still standing by Elton John, Kung Fu fighting by Carl Douglas, Hey You by Pink Floyd, Can’t Stop by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Titanium by David Guetta (featuring Sia), Over by Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas

Secret Weapon: My optimism, my resourcefulness, my wonderful husband and son, the sun that comes out every morning no matter how shitty life in STEM is, my techs, students, and postdocs that make it all worthwhile.