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Examples to bring awareness about JML

Here are some relevant comments from the literature about experiences of inequality, exclusion, and harassment in academia.

Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering

Paula A. Johnson, Sheila E. Widnall, and Frazier F. Benya, Editors Committee on the Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine Policy and Global Affairs, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, National Academies Press, 2018. 

Sexual Harassment of Women – Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

An Assistant professor of engineering says:

‘’Most of them are demeaning the woman, shutting her up in the workplace, demeaning her in front of other colleagues, telling her that she’s not as capable as others are, or telling others that she’s not [as] sincere as you people are . . . I think more stress should be on that. It’s not just, you know, touching or making sexual advances, but it’s more of at the intellectual level. They try to mentally play those mind games, basically so that you wouldn’t be able to perform physically.’’ (Assistant professor of engineering)

Nontenure-track faculty member in psycology says:

“I think also sometimes people are blinded by good signs and shiny personalities. Because those things tend to go hand in hand. You don’t want to think that this person who’s doing incredible work in getting all of these grants, is also someone who has created a negative environment for others. I’ve seen this over and over again.” (Nontenure-track faculty member in psychology)

Nontenure-track faculty member in medicine says:

“Well, literally I considered just letting him sexually assault me. I really did consider how difficult that would be to just you know, like deal with. And with that I think that my career would have been much better off”. (Nontenure-track faculty member in medicine)

Assistant professor in mathematics says:

“Say it was just a friend or something like that, there’s more of an equal relationship with the person . . . you could just say, “Can you just stop hugging me?” or “I’m just not comfortable with that.” But the issue with this situation is that he’s got power over me that could destroy my career.” (Assistant professor of mathematics)

Professor in geosciences says:

“This is kind of a new thing that — and the mindset is so ingrained, like the people that say these things, they don’t even realize that they are — so their intent is not to sexually harass people, but they do it automatically, and they don’t even think about it”. (Professor in geosciences)

Sexism, support and survival in academia: the Finnish experience

Liisa Husu, Conference: European Commission: Gender & Research, Brussels 8-9 November 2001. Sexism, Support and Survival in Academia. Academic Women and Hidden Discrimination in Finland

“In working conditions, different subtle discrimination could occur in the formal and informal division of labour in departments, laboratories or research groups. Differential treatment of women and men was sometimes reported in the division of office or laboratory space, equipment, computers, sometimes in the possibility to use secretarial help. Sometimes, women also felt discriminated against in access to information, that is, the problem of getting access to preliminary, important, strategic, often confidential information, not the information academics are currently bombarded with electronically and by paper. Academic women, in some cases in relatively high positions, sometimes told me how they were sidelined or excluded from this kind of information flow in their academic settings.


Sexism and gender discrimination take multiple forms and often, subtle discrimination takes the form of “non-events”: silences, omissions, absences, subtle exclusions, ignoring and invisibility, lack of support and lack of encouragement. What happens is actually that “nothing happens”: you are not seen, heard, paid attention to, asked along, referred to. Responding to these kinds of non-events or ignoring is difficult, and sometimes nearly impossible.

Discrimination and sexism are often sensitive issues and difficult to take up.Thus they may remain covered and unknown to most people in the organisation except those directly involved. Women prefer not to talk about their discrimination experiences in public and often not even to their colleagues, because they may be afraid of causing difficulties in their career or being labelled as persona non grata or as “non co-operative” or problematic.”

Historical comparison of gender inequality in scientific careers across countries and disciplines

Junming Huang, Alexander J. Gates, Roberta Sinatra, and Albert-László Barabási, PNAS March 3, 2020 117 (9) 4609-4616.
Historical comparison of gender inequality in scientific careers across countries and disciplines

“… when it comes to the number of publications per year, female and male authors are largely indistinguishable, representing the first gender invariant quantity in performance metrics”.

“In other words, each year, women scientists have a 19.5% higher risk to leave academia than male scientists, giving male authors a major cumulative advantage over time”.

“It is often argued that in order to reduce the gender gap, the scientific community must make efforts to nurture junior female researchers. We find, however, that the academic system is losing women at a higher rate at every stage of their careers, suggesting that focusing on junior scientists alone may not be sufficient to reduce the observed career-wise gender imbalance”.

These examples were compiled by the local JML group at MSE (Manon Bonvalet, Ahmet Bahadir Yildiz, Lorenzo Marchetti, Claudio Lousada, Katarzyna Jagodzinska, Raquel Lizarraga Jurado). 

Belongs to: Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM)
Last changed: Jan 03, 2023