My Worst Moment: I was subject to sexual harassment from a senior staffer (e.g. inappropriately intimate questioning, groping) as a technician at an institute in the USA. I did nothing about it. I needed a reference. I experienced gender discrimination from my supervisor as a PhD student in the UK (e.g. “I’m helping John and James find a postdoc, you have a husband to look after you”). I did nothing. I needed a reference. I experienced gender violation from 2 male colleagues while working at a remote field site as a postdoc at a university in Australia. I did nothing, I was too embarrassed to. As a senior researcher at an institute in Australia I was regularly mistaken for a tea lady, talked over the top of, informed I was not “leadership material”, provided less resources than more junior male colleagues despite bringing in more grant funding, not invited to collaborate with the blokes, had my work plagiarized and my projects taken away from me and given to male colleagues. I did not have a “worst moment” I had 2 years of complete hell when I finally decided I would make a complaint. I became the target of a sustained attack on my person and my reputation by the male “superstar” in the lab who had built his career off my back but easily convinced the boys club that comprised department heads that I was “high maintenance”, “hysterical” and a troublemaker.
I Have Given Up On: My brilliant career.
I’m Afraid: Frequently.
This Has Cost Me: Several million dollars in lost wages, years wasted trying to cope with PTSD, depression, anxiety, my relationship, many friends, the opportunity to use my skills to make a difference in the world.
Is There a Bright Side: No. The way things are, encouraging young women into science is like sending lambs to the slaughter. So, no. It has to change.
Something You Should Know About Me: I discovered I had other skills and graduated top of the class in law. I got a belated letter of apology from the Institute in question which made me feel slightly better until I realised that their assurances that they have improved their processes have not stopped what happened to me continuing to other women at that institution. I’m determined that this stops. And I am now a lawyer.
Secret Weapon: Looking like someone men underestimate