This is not a personal story, just a heads up for the women out there. As a senior researcher I have very often heard my male colleagues express a gossipy interest in the romantic lives of their women colleagues, women students, women fellow students, etc. It is very, very easy to become to the focus of gossip—start dating someone? divorce or break up with your partner? not be forthcoming about whether you even have a partner? have a child while single?…I am sorry to say this but: you will be gossiped about, especially if you are found to be “good-looking”. And in worst cases the gossip will follow you from place to place.
Needless to say, the romantic lives of one’s male colleagues, male graduate students, etc don’t seem to be of interest all and are not talked about.
Of course I always cut off the conversation when this goes on in my presence, with the comment that this kind of gossip is an unsuitable topic for discussion and invasion of the woman’s privacy.
My guess is that this probably has a negative impact on these women’s careers.