I was wondering if anyone has any opinions on how to handle the following:
One of the undergrads working in the lab came to me yesterday evening
with a problem. She and another woman student had asked a professor a
question concerning the direction of a project for a class they are in.
The professor was very sarcastic, as he is to everyone, grudgingly
answered their question and then followed it up with "When will these
women engineers ever learn to..." and then mumbled something incoherent
when he looked up and realized that they were still there.
The student, who for the record is extremely bright and motivated, was
quite upset about this and unsure what to do. This happened in a student
study lounge and many others heard it. The general concensus among the
students' class mates was that "Oh that's just the way Dr. X is; just
blow it off". She ( and I) disagreed and said that no one should have to
put up with this and that it was just plain unprofessional.
My first advice was to tell the department chair, who is extremely
approachable and supportive. Or maybe to talk to our mutual boss.
The problem is that this young woman is a junior and will have to have at
least 3 more classes from the offending professor. Also he is a fairly
intimidating figure both physically and with the amount of power he has
within the department. This is also not the first time he has done
something like this. He once remarked about a grad student that she
"expected smooth sailing just because she is a Hispanic female with good
I promised her that I would write to you all and ask what you think. I
am also encouraging her to join a news group for women in science and/or
engineering. I will give her the address for the web site so she can
check it out herself.
Thanks in advance for any insight you can offer. She is quite upset by
the whole thing (and rightly so!)