My name is not Kathleen
My Worst Moment: I was at my first conference as a new Assistant Professor and began having a conversation with a very prominent person in my field. He was one of my science heroes- kind of cool and edgy and youngish but still super smart. So, I was in awe he wanted to spend the evening talking with me. Unfortunately those weren’t his only plans because after an hour or so of what I thought was great conversation he asked me back to his room. I declined. I never told anyone and thought that probably I had just given him mixed signals?
Sometimes I still feel like it may have been partially my fault. Unfortunately, he was chairing another conference a few months later. I found out from a friend on the planning committee that he pulled my talk from the program. At this point I’ve told a few close friends and colleagues but I am more scared that it will impact my reputation more than his if the story spreads.
I Have Given Up On: The notion that people are able to change. I now just hope that we can make it to the next generation of men and that they will be better.
I’m Afraid: He’s doing it to other people and I am partially responsible because I’m too scared to speak up and lose my career.
This Has Cost Me: At least one talk at an important conference. Many hours worrying about having to see him again and whether he’s trying to ruin my career. The ability to have normal conversations with male colleagues without being anxious about ulterior motives. Ultimately, it makes me question every day if I’m where I am because I deserve it or because I was put there at the whim of some men who like me being in the field.
Something You Should Know About Me: This has only strengthened my resolve to stay in academic science and succeed. The best way to fight these abusers is from the top.
Is There a Bright Side: It got me truly invested in empowering women to stay in science
My Secret Weapon: My inner circle of friends and colleagues. They know what happened and have my back always. It makes facing him at conferences less scary.