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I've been an absolute fool. I deserve "I told you so" and a big kick up the arse.

(80 Posts)
opiumeater Thu 02-Nov-17 16:16:12

My DH and I work in adjacent fields. He is far more senior than I am - field-leading professor, HoD, whereas I am early career on short-term, pt contracts and running a business on the side to make ends meet.

The problem I have is that we work in closely related departments and he is standing in my way. The official excuse is because he's scared of being accused of nepotism. When casual teaching opportunities come up, I can't have them because of "his position". They go to PhD students instead, even when I am more qualified and more experienced in the particular area. He recently gave a bunch of teaching to someone from the ex-poly down the road, who doesn't even have a PhD and isn't even en route to getting one, in preference to giving it to me. When opportunities to chair sessions, or to do important admin tasks, or anything else comes up, I'm excluded for the same reasons.

I recently spent ages working on a bid with him. The bid was my original idea. It's in my research area, which is firmly connected to my PhD and postdoc research. I spent hours not only editing it and doing costings but substantively contributing to the theoretical framework, drawing heavily on my own research and knowledge of the literature. I spent days getting all the sodding green ticks in line on the endlessly complicated application, ensuring the costings and supplementary documents were all consistent etc. I did all this on the understanding was that I'd be written in as an RA with DH as PI.

DH took what I'd done and drew in a bunch of new people with more permanent jobs, many of whom I don't know. They made a few minor changes, and put in for the grant, without my name on it. DH won it - it's for a substantial amount of money. Then he told me the RA posts would be advertised and I couldn't even apply because he was PI and it would look like he had given me a job.

So I'm now watching my own idea and my own work slide out of view. I feel like he's literally stolen my idea, and to some extent also my research identity. Before I met him, he was interested in a fairly weak, minor field that was tangentially related to mine, which is larger, more complex and more difficult. Since we've been together, he's increasingly colonising my territory and making it his 'brand'.

I feel completely.... betrayed.

I've also contributed in a substantive way to his papers, without credit. He's promised to write with me in return, but the work never, ever materialises. I've come to realise that essentially what he wants is for me to produce my best work and for him to be able to put his name on the top.

It's not just him either. I am surrounded by academics who want me to work on their papers (I'm known as a good writer/editor) without credit, and without pay. I've foolishly been doing this for some time, in the hope that one of them might throw me a bone of an opportunity, but the reciprocity never materialises. Over the last 8 years, like an absolute fucking idiot, I have literally written huge sections of well-cited papers in the field, without credit.

I'm finding this all incredibly decimating to my self-confidence and my self-worth. To be honest, they weren't very high in the first place, which I guess is the reason I've allowed this to go on for so long as it has. I now spend a lot of time crying and feeling utterly worthless, undervalued and exploited. I know that my work is good enough to be published and win major grants, because it has been taken without credit by other people and it has done so, yet I feel so hollowed out by all this that I don't feel like I have the confidence to go forward independently.

I'm 40 soon and I'm feeling very unhappy about where I am and what I'm doing. I know I need to buck my ideas up, pluckily pick myself up and get working on my own behalf, but I am honestly struggling to get through a day at the moment. I feel like I'm in some sort of depressed torpor and need a shot of adrenaline to the heart or something to get out of it. The worst thing is, at some level I have done this to myself. I'm a total fool.

TooDamnSarky Thu 02-Nov-17 16:19:54

Your DH is a complete arsehole!!!!
If anyone else did this to you you’d be putting in a formal brievance!
How fucking dare he!!!!!

<unhelpful>

endofthelinefinally Thu 02-Nov-17 16:22:47

You need to move.
And possibly leave your husband because he is treating you appallingly.
People will always take advantage.
It happens everywhere, not just in academia.
You have to find a way to stop others stealing your work.

LittleLights Thu 02-Nov-17 16:23:09

You are worrying him, he thinks you could be more successful than himself, he's trying to keep you down, instead of supporting you.

endofthelinefinally Thu 02-Nov-17 16:23:40

I have had this happen to me several times and it is infuriating.

gybegirl Thu 02-Nov-17 16:24:41

Clearly the one thing you are not is a fool.

I would print this out and show it to your DH. Tell him he needs to treat you fairly with regard to work or you will not lift a finger to help him again. If you are the best person for the job then you get the job . Tell him to grow a backbone.

annandale Thu 02-Nov-17 16:28:00

My God. I've read some terrible things on MN but this is pretty awful.

Do you think your anger is going to give you adrenaline enough to go out and get yourself a new job? I think you have to. If this has been going on for so long in this way I'm not sure there is a way round it, you are going to have to break out. What about a head hunter? If you are no good at selling yourself, hire someone who will help you or set up opportunities for you?

How on earth did he not suggest some alternative to simply excluding you from everything? Was there not some way of getting independent monitoring of decision-making where you were involved [sorry, no clue about academic setting]

Can you go back to some of the other authors and get some kind of written acknowledgement of your input?

TooDamnSarky Thu 02-Nov-17 16:28:38

Honestly? I don’t think I would want to be in the same room as someone who treated me this badly. Let alone in the same marriage.

Show him your post.

TooDamnSarky Thu 02-Nov-17 16:30:01

And find yourself a female mentor in a different dept asap.

Ceto Thu 02-Nov-17 16:33:27

Your husband is being an idiot. There are perfectly sensible ways he could set up a recruitment process that safeguards him from being accused of nepotism, notably by involving other people and not being involved in your interviews.

Are there similar openings in other universities? I'd apply for the ASAP if I were you.

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Thu 02-Nov-17 16:37:13

It sounds like you need to find a new job somewhere else. IME it is much better not working in the same department. It also sounds like you are having a rough deal, however I have to say on this theme that I have never come across so much nepotism as I personally have observed in the HE sector here. For example lectureships being rustled up magically for the spouse of a new chair, this despite a mismatch with the needs of the department, and several other examples. So maybe your institution is having a 'crackdown' or maybe your husband is just being an arse. Either way you need to look for a new job where you can thrive on your own merit. Best of luck.

FurryGiraffe Thu 02-Nov-17 16:38:43

I'm not sure my marriage could survive a betrayal of that magnitude to be perfectly honest. Have you asked him to explain himself? What's his justification for his theft of your work?

Plenty of people in academia work alongside their partners. We have two couples in our department at the moment (both were couples before they joined the department). It's perfectly possible to manage it.

FurryGiraffe Thu 02-Nov-17 16:43:39

It also sounds like you are having a rough deal, however I have to say on this theme that I have never come across so much nepotism as I personally have observed in the HE sector here. For example lectureships being rustled up magically for the spouse of a new chair, this despite a mismatch with the needs of the department, and several other examples. So maybe your institution is having a 'crackdown' or maybe your husband is just being an arse.

Oh yes, this undoubtedly happens. But equally, there are ways of limiting nepotism short of sabotaging your spouse's career! One of my junior colleagues is the partner of a professor in our department. We advertised a lectureship, which was in her area. She applied and was upfront about her relationship to him. He wasn't involved in the recruitment process at all (he would have been otherwise because of the field). She got the job fair and square.

The OP's 'D'H could choose to plead lack of impartiality and hand over responsibility for the part time teaching etc to somebody else. He's choosing to shaft his wife instead. Presumably because he views her as a threat. Or thinks that if she establishes herself too firmly she'll stop doing his work for him.

JigglyTuff Thu 02-Nov-17 16:46:35

* *Honestly? I don’t think I would want to be in the same room as someone who treated me this badly. Let alone in the same marriage.

What she said. He’s stealing your intellectual property

Merryhobnobs Thu 02-Nov-17 16:47:06

He is being very, very unfair. My husband is an academic, I am not but because of him I am privvy to some of the workings of an acdemic department. He works for one of the very best Universities in the UK. It is fairly common for there to be husband/wife/partners working in departments together - indeed recently his university employed a husband and wife as they really wanted one and it involved a big relocation so they knew they would have to offer them both. If your husband was being fair he would pride himself on you working well and achieving more as it would reflect well on him and the department. He clearly feels threatened by your competence and also enjoys taking advantage for his own benefit. If I were you I would look to find a position with another university/research body. You will likely not get the position you should because of the lack of papers/writing/research bids in your name. But at least at another institution you would be given the opportunity to actually do well.

Impostress99 Thu 02-Nov-17 16:49:57

New job.
Somewhere else.
New female mentor.
Inform him he is plagiarising and you are considering speaking to HR.

Leave the relationship.

Graby Thu 02-Nov-17 16:53:39

Apply - and in your application letter say that you wrote the bid.

I'm sorry and hope you will be ok.

ginpig Thu 02-Nov-17 17:05:51

If your DH is so afraid of being seen as nepotistic, he needs to hand decisions on allocating teaching and opportunities to an impartial panel with full disclosure of the reasons why. Married/ partnered couples are.so common in academia that I can't see anyone would have a problem with that kind of transparency.

But taking your name off a grant which you have effectively written is unforgiveable. I can understand drafting in other expertise as their presence on an application can often strengthen an application that the right people are in place to deliver the work, but taking you off without telling you is awful. And I imagine that the RA posts will go out to interview via the normal university system? If so, he cannot stop you from applying and when it comes to interview, there will be a panel so he couldn't be accused of being nepotistic there either. If he actually stops you from applying then you should complain to HR

bigkidsdidit Thu 02-Nov-17 17:11:02

Jesus! You could have submitted that grant alone and set yourself up as a researcher. It was your idea!

I am fuming for you. God knows how you feel.

I never say ltb on mumsnet but honestly - I would ltb. Dear god.

bigkidsdidit Thu 02-Nov-17 17:13:49

And tbh I would write to the grant funding body and explain the situation.

Quartz2208 Thu 02-Nov-17 17:14:51

He is actually doing reverse nepotism!

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Thu 02-Nov-17 17:20:46

Totally Quartz - and I wonder if this is the other side of the same coin so to speak. If you have proper governance of these issues then it should prevent both nepotism and the type of shocking experience the OP describes, as a more objective and transparent process would allow application and allocation of posts on merit.

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Thu 02-Nov-17 17:44:01

The other thing I've just noticed as well opium is your comment about running a business on the side to make ends meet. Are you in an expensive area? Obviously I realise Professors aren't paid that highly but I'm curious why you are having to dilute out your efforts at advancing your career by running a business too as your DH will be on a good income.

glovesonstrings Thu 02-Nov-17 17:46:44

He’s a shit.

NukaColaGirl Thu 02-Nov-17 17:53:17

Have my first LTB

Go to another Uni as far away from him as possible.

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