When Half of the World is Against You

I would like to start this post on a positive note and say that I am a fighter, I’m feisty, hardworking, intelligent, passionate, and determined as fuck to meet my goals. Despite many trials in life prior to this point I have managed to make it quite far, and am pursuing my dream of getting a PhD in the sciences. Now, a couple years into my doctorate program, I am feeling incredibly weighed down. Typically students in my field face high levels of stress, demanding hours, and incessant failure, all things that I have managed to cope with and power through (with some excellent help through therapy), however one thing that I can’t ever seem to move past is the antiquated sexism thats rampant in the sciences and academia. Whether its this idea that women can’t achieve what men can, or worse, that we are only around for the male scientists’ pleasure, it’s all just piling up. Not just once have I personally encountered these phenomenon, and have heard far too many stories to count from other females in the same field. There comes a point where I wonder if it is even possible to fight back, to stay motivated and determined. Every time I adopt a positive attitude or regain strength, another incident happens. I’m not “just lucky” if an experiment works, my intelligence and hard work matter far more than how much cleavage I show or if I wear makeup, I should never have to fear for my safety at work, I should never have to have a male coworker repeat my idea for it to be valid. I will meet my goals and achieve my dreams, but fighting such a weight every day is exhausting. I’m at a loss for how to handle it, short of just trudging on and being continuously tired.

@BadWolf firstly i want to say well done following your dream, that’s awesome.
Sadly in our world, although it’s getting less and less, females are seen as less capable than men in a lot of areas. I’m really sorry I can’t be more help here but I really want you to know that you’re not the only one that feels this way - reach out to the others in your studies and your area, especially the females. I’m so proud of you for fighting and working through this. You’re doing an amazing job and I want you to try and keep that positive attitude but know it’s okay to lean on other people. You got this. Keep fighting. Keep working hard.

Hold Fast

Hey @BadWolf!

Holy cow, I’m extremely impressed. First of all, it makes me really happy to hear about all of the words of life that you’re pouring into yourself. Continue to tell yourself that you’re a fighter, feisty, hardworking, intelligent and passionate on a daily basis. You believe whatever you tell yourself (whether it be truths or lies), so keep up the good work!

My girlfriend is also working on her PhD (in Audiology), and I’ve heard similar stories of how demanding the hours can be, in addition to the high levels of stress and anxiety one can experience, so know that you’re absolutely not alone.

I tried really hard to find a YouTube video that I watched a few weeks ago regarding a historical woman scientist who experienced similar sexism. I was going to share it with you but I just can’t seem to find it. If I do, I’ll make sure to share it with you. It was basically about a scientist who pushed and pushed, and pushed, and pushed through the consistent hurdles and hardships - later ending up discovering a type of cure which saved a plethora of people. I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling like life is beating me down, I like to watch motivational videos. My favorite YouTube channel to flip through is “Absolute Motivation”. I hope you find inspiration there too to keep pushing!

Thank you @Kayla and @Eric for your kind words and support! The community on the wall here is incredible and I’m glad to have found it.

I chose to write the original post as extremely vague both because I’m new to this and for the sake of my own sanity. However, I will say that it may under-represent how difficult this can be as I’ve managed to put on a brave face. Maybe it is an untraditional form of love, but I absolutely love what I do, it has often been a refuge for me when moving on from traumatic or troublesome events/thoughts. Like many others who post here, I fight mental illness daily (predominantly anxiety, but co-morbid depression as well), but working towards my goals has helped me tremendously. Now this environment, this thing that I love, is becoming the cause of so much additional stress and pain. Fighting back, finding motivation, continuing to work, why do these things matter when the outcome is still that I will not be respected by my field, and worse, will still never be safe in my field? How can I love a job where my coworkers see me as a no more than a sexual object? At some point I have to wonder if it makes more sense to abandon ship and find an alternative career path.

Time to watch some of those nifty motivational videos now! And maybe jump into the YouTube trench myself in search of that video you described @Eric.

I’ve spent a chunk of time complaining about my situation, but despite that I want anyone who reads or replies to all of this to know that it does get better. I’ve been through far worse, and I’m sure this won’t be the last obstacle life throws at me, but I’m gonna make it through and so will you. Reaching out and conversations certainly lessen the impact a hell of a lot.