ADVANCE Weekly Roundup: Sexism Undermines Accomplished Women

This week we showcase a blog post that suggests how women who are talented and capable can be undermined by gendered biases. The blog revisits incidents in which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has been publicly slighted by men in power. A particularly well-publicized moment was dubbed “Sofagate” after European Council President Charles Michel left von der Leyen without a seat at a televised photo op and discussion among leaders. Later he suggested that failing to redress the omission was necessary because interrupting the photo op might have unsettled international negotiations.

This illustrates how individuals may try to justify not altering or addressing everyday sexism by creating huge stakes. The point is that seemingly small slights – ”etiquette breaches, missteps, even miscommunications” – remain prevalent and embedded in civil behavior and are often justified even when it affects women whose accomplishments and status are celebrated. The ADVANCE Allies & Advocates program explicitly addresses the need for colleagues who are ready to recognize and assist in the face of sexist and biased treatment and for policies that rectify commonplace sexism and other forms of discrimination. 

Today’s feature was shared with us by the ADVANCE team. If you have an article you think we should feature, please email it to, and we will consider adding it to the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup.

The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, which is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion. These articles are available on the ADVANCE Newsblog ( To learn more about this week’s topic, our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources, contact us at ( or visit our website:

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