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Therapist Leslie
Therapist Leslie, Counselor
Category: Job
Satisfied Customers: 251
Experience:  Owner and Psychotherapist at Self-Employed, Private Practice
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I am a college professor. I began as an adjunct at my

Customer Question

I am a college professor. I began as an adjunct at my college 18-years ago, became full-time temporary 11 years ago, tenure-eligible 7 years ago, and have been on the tenure track for almost 4-years.
Shortly after learning that I had been hired on as a regular tenure-eligible instructor, I found out that I was pregnant at the age of 40. It was definitely a wonderful and unexpected surprise. I had given up any hope of having kids. At that time, I had already worked at the college for several years and was teaching primarily online classes that I had developed from the ground up. They needed online instructors and I was given a load that was completely online. During that time, other instructors began to complain that I was only being given online classes because I had a baby. Apparently there was quite a stink about it. I really felt a great deal of disapproval from others in the department, despite the fact that I was mostly online prior to becoming pregnant and the administration was begging for instructors to teach and develop online classes.
At one point, I was informed suddenly that I would be losing many of my online classes when another instructor (who graduated from an Ivy League college) became pregnant. I was originally told that it would be just for one semester, but it turned into two years.
Additionally, during the time that I was teaching online, I was not in my office a great deal and was not required to be. I was asked to give up my office so that another full-time instructor could use it. I was disappointed but understood.
Upon returning to teach face-to-face classes, I was informed that the Ivy League instructor who would now be teaching some of my online classes, would also be sharing my office as there was a shortage of office space. I wasn’t thrilled, but she was online and never there. However, after a couple of years, when she returned to teach one face-to-face class, she decided that she wanted an office to herself. I was asked to move out of the office despite the fact that I had it first, that I had been teaching at the school longer, and I was also teaching more face-to-face classes. When I approached my division chair to ask why he had made the decision, he said that he didn’t know. He guessed it was because she had put her name plate on the door.
I was moved into another professors office with a dismal little old black secretary’s desk and an antiquate file cabinet pushed up against the wall which is where I have been for the last three years despite the fact that everyone in the department has an office, even those who are of lesser seniority. They have received office before me.
Recently an older professor retired, leaving an open office. I approached our division chair about it and was informed that he had not yet made a decision about who it was going to go to. However, I have since been informed that the office will go to whichever new professor we will be hiring in the next few weeks. Interestingly, I was asked to serve on the screening committee for the new professor, so I suppose that I am qualified enough to serve in that capacity, but not to have an office like all of my colleagues of equal or lesser standing.
I am just terribly upset about this. I am a good teacher and I work harder than most other professors. I have developed and teach a variety of classes. I have even won a national award for my online lessons. I am a shy person and it isn’t easy for me to stand up for myself, particularly because whenever I try people get angry.
However, not having an office is affecting my ability to have a presence at the college, my ability to interact effectively with my students, my ability to be as organized as I would like to be in my classes, my ability to serve our college in other ways such as advising, and also my ability to be treated as a respected member of our college. I have been frequently mistaken as an assistant or work study student.
I apologize for the length of this, but this has been an ongoing situation for several years now. I keep hoping that I will be able to work hard enough and prove myself enough that I will finally get equal treatment within the department, not just with regard to the office, but in treatment and other opportunities that would enhance my position and my ability to remain at the college, but obviously that doesn’t seem to be working.
Any suggestions that you might have would be greatly appreciated.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Job
Expert:  Therapist Leslie replied 5 months ago.

Good afternoon and thank you so much for your message. I realize it's difficult to reach out. Please know I honor your courage.

My name is ***** ***** I am a psychotherapist in the Metro Boston area.

Wow...you have, no doubt, served your time at this particular college, proven your abilities and been beyond flexible. You are being horribly ignored and mistreated. I am so sorry. I can't imagine how frustrated you must feel.

My gut tells me they believe they can treat you this way because they believe you will simply roll with the punches and not put up a fight. This, of course, is not acceptable and must stop.

I do believe we dictate how others treat us and I believe you need to very firmly put your foot down, insisting you do not have the space to do your job in the appropriate manner needed and they need to find an appropriate office for you immediately. I imagine there are many others in your department who would not allow this for even a day....no less years on end.

I realize it is difficult for you stand firm as you describe yourself as "shy." Are you shy or struggling with being a bit more assertive? Are you able to ask for what you need in other situations? You did mention your fear of asking for what you want as you are frequently met with anger. It does not seem you have been met with anger in this situation--more of a total disregard. Am I correct on this?

It seems the universe may be sending you this situation so you can finally break free of this subtle pushing down the department has been doing for years. Please stand firm, believing your worth and intelligence and demand this very basic thing.

Have I answered your question? Is there anything else I can do to assist you further? I want to ensure you are pleased with mys ervice. I also gently request you provide a star rating for me. Of course, we can continue to talk after the rating is provided.

Please take good care of yourself and feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Warm regards,

Therapist Leslie

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
You have called the situation very well. My co-workers continuously tell me that I need to stand up for myself, but whenever I do, it does tend to end with the other person being offended. For example, I was recently disappointed about not getting the typical course load that I have become used to receiving over the years. I very carefully approached our coordinator and asked if there was any way I could teach an additional class. I apologized for making the request, but said that I had been planning to enter my child into a particular private school (the public schools in our area have very low rankings) based upon my usual salary, but would not be able to do that without my regular course load. I also offered to develop a new class. She commented to me that she was not responsible for my financial situation and stated that I made her feel like it was her fault that "...my child would not get to go to 'private school'." She then went on to say that she had to remember that this was "just Shannon." I was shocked because I had attempted to be so careful and delicate in the way in which I approached the request, and absolutely did not express any feelings of blame towards her. I I described the exchange to a couple of co-workers and they were shocked at the way that I was treated. I suppose I am both a bit shy (or insecure) and struggling to be more assertive, but any time I make a request I tend to receive a very undesirable result. I have been struggling with this forever and do wish that I had a way to grow a better backbone. Thank you so much for your help.
Expert:  Therapist Leslie replied 5 months ago.

My heart aches for you as you seem so bright, capable and deserving of your requests....which are, in reality, really rather basic. I can't even imagine treating an employee in such a way. Your needs are just as important as any of the other colleagues at the college and it angers me that they take advantage of someone they view as passive. Please, for yourself, and no matter the outcome/result, learn to be your own best friend and advocate. This ability to soar to where you deserve to be.