I recently found myself in the unusual situation of talking to a bunch of women who were all in female-dominated fields. They were bemoaning their inability to meet men through work, while I was amused to note that it is men in Computer Science who have the equivalent problem. Women are instead the pursued, and the men seem to have the feeling that any woman who begins dating someone outside the department is engaging in an act of betrayal. But as I thought about the broader situation, it became less and less amusing.
There is a large problem with sexual harassment within computer science departments. It's not in-your-face, and it's easy not to see it if it doesn't happen to you. Since I've been spared that horror, I've managed to ignore its presence for most of this time. My only personal inkling that something might be not-quite-right was at the department sexual harassment workshop which I naively expected to actually discuss how to avoid being harassed and committing harassment and instead discussed how not to get caught. To be fair to the department, this was actually run by the university. But while I have not had to deal with this personally, it is becoming an acknowledged issue within this field (see the CRA note, which also includes discrimination), and about time.
It is ridiculous to me that this is still a problem. There is no excuse for female grad students being pursued by other graduate students and professors who cross all bounds of propriety and don't take no for an answer. As a woman among men there are already far too many situations where I am the "other," I do not appreciate the feeling that I also have a flashing sign over my head saying "pursue me however you see fit." I believe that it is the responsibility of departments to ensure that this does not happen, that they must take an active role in prevention and protection of the women in their department. And conversely I believe that any women in unsupportive departments should feel politically protected to speak out about their department's apathy over this issue, so that future female students will avoid the department and the department will be forced to take action. Sadly the political situation protects the perpetrators and silences the victims who, as grad students in need of funding and soon to be looking for jobs, can not afford to be seen as controversial or "hysterical." It is left to the rest of us to speak.
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