meetings and perceptions

E. Wijsman wijsman at
Thu Oct 9 12:45:48 EST 1997

I will second Kirsten's comments here.  I spent a summer in Europe in
1975, and ran into exactly the same behavior, and not just in one place. 
However, it was unique to Germany.  I spent time also in both Denmark and
the Netherlands on the same trip, and ran into no particular problems (so
I don't think it was just my age at the time). I was also totally shocked
at the behavior of the German males, which took me completely by surprise. 
Like Kirsten, this behavior also made me realize that Germany was not
likely to be a country that I would be willing to live in. 

Ellen M. Wijsman			Express mail address:
Research Professor			1914 N 34th St., suite 209
Div. of Medical Genetics and		Seattle, WA   98103
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On 9 Oct 1997 ktimms at postmaster wrote:

> My personal experience in Germany was that Europeans weren't more relaxed
> they just were accepting of what I found to be extremely inappropriate
> behaviour. During my year there I was constantly harrassed by another PhD
> student (male) in my lab. This included inappropriate remarks and his
> constantly touching me. He treated the majority of the women in the
> department in this manner and when I asked them why no-one complained I was
> told this was just something you had to put up with. I could find no formal
> avenue for laying a complaint. When I voiced my extreme displeasure about his
> behaviour to the individual concerned he suggested that I should "grow up"
> and that if I were a mature woman I wouldn't feel this way. This was a major
> reason why I left the department and returned to NZ after only a year. I
> should also mention that this behaviour occurred in a high profile
> institution where there was one group leader with a firm "no females" policy
> in his lab and another who seemed to think that an essential part of mentoring
> his female students and post-docs was to sleep with them.
> After spending a year in Germany it wasn't difficult for me to understand why
> the proportion of female grad students was so low, and also convinced me that
> this was not a place I would ever consider living or working again.
> My impressions were that women in this department at least were powerless to 
> stop this sort of behaviour, and as a consequence accepted it as inevitable.
> Kirsten.

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