The Smart Girl Struggle: Being Smart Often Makes It Harder For Women To Stop Sexual Harassment

Joan recently defended her thesis and became a full professor. She told me she is an exceptional math teacher, and she has gotten rave reviews from her students. She has no doubt about her abilities to teach. She loves it. A colleague started pressuring her to have a relationship with him, however, telling her that he was in love with her and that he just knew they had a connection. She was not interested.

She repeatedly told him no in various, very planned and collegial ways, but he started emailing her, and continued pressuring her. She didn’t want to lose the professional contact. She thought she knew how to be appropriate in turning someone down politely – after all, she was very smart and successful.