I feel like I’ve been blindsided. I’ve been in my department for over 5 years, and I’ve always thought of it as a pretty friendly place. I’ve experienced the usual subtle and unintentional sexism here, but never anything overt. Recently, though, we had a contentious discussion about hiring, and for the first time since I’ve been here I did not simply go along with the majority view. I stated my opposing view calmly, politely, but assertively. We took a vote, my view lost, and I thought that was the end of it. But in the week following that event I had two different conversations in which I was informed that I never would have been hired if it hadn’t been for affirmative action. One conversation was with the department chair, one with the most senior member. In both cases, the remark was gratuitously inserted into a conversation about an unrelated topic. And in the weeks since then I’ve had no luck getting volunteers for any of the events I’m in charge of organizing. People don’t even respond to my emails. The lessons I’ve learned? Assertiveness is punished, and no matter how long I’m here my status is always questionable because I was apparently an affirmative action hire. I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back to feeling comfortable here.