How else could a woman be so successful?

Posted: November 17, 2010 by Jender in Why else....?

I spent four years as an undergraduate student and one as a graduate student taking philosophy courses in a department where I was one of very few female students (often the only one in a particular class). The department has a fairly high number of female faculty members and I always felt that all the faculty members I encountered supported and encouraged me. I took several classes from a certain (male) professor in the department who was known for being a particularly harsh grader. I put extra time and effort into his classes, sought his advice on papers and eventually learned to think and write in a way that won his approval. This experience was invaluable for me, and the hard work I put into these classes was what made me want to become a philosopher. Several times, both as an undergraduate and a graduate student male colleagues of mine suggested that the only reason I was doing well when so many others were not was that I must be sleeping with the professor. The (always male) students who said this to me felt it was perfectly acceptable to do so in front of large groups. No one ever came to my defense (or that of the professor). My eventual transfer to another department was in part motivated by a desire to escape the offensive comments of my fellow students.

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