My College Advisor Told Me Not to Finish Undergrad Because I Was Married to a Doctor

  • af: Kelsey B.
  • mottagare: University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana
I returned to school to finish my undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. I was a little older than most of my peers (23 yrs old) and married to a man who was getting a medical degree. As a tranfer student interested in potentially going to law school, I met with my academic advisor in the Political Science Department, Dr. Joseph Hinchliffe, to be sure I understood the way my credits were being transferred so I could plan a timeline for graudation and graduate school. 

That's when I got some of the most sexist, offensive advice I've ever received from a person in power. Mr. Hinchliffe told me not only should I not go to law school, but I should also quit undergrad because I was married to a doctor. In the same meeting, he expressed doubt in my ability to succeed at the University of Illinois academically and socially. I left his office in tears, completely crushed by a person who I was supposed to trust.

Please sign my petition if you would like for Professor Hinchliffe to not be allowed to advise any longer. 

Fortunately for me, my personal network immediately countered his opinions and even though I decided against law school at that time, I went on to gradute with a bachelors degree in Political Science and am now working as a professional in advocacy. 

I reported this sexist 'advising' to many people over the years since, concerned that other women were getting the same career sidelining advise from a person in power. I was assured by two people that he had been 'talked to'. But he has been advising ever since, he was not punished at all for this incident and beyond a talking to, he has not received any formal training and the university has not made an effort to find out if he is still advising in this way. I recommended an anonymous survey to people he advised to be sure he truly has changed his ways. 

I cringe to imagine how many young women he has told to find a husband rather than a degree. Particularly in the political science sphere, I'm sure I am not the only potential female lawyer he has dissauded. If we truly want equity in our society, we must remove barriers like sexist college advisors. This kind of outdated, sexist thinking cannot be tolerated, especially in a public university.

As I began to tell this story, I heard rumors of other women who had a similar experience. I even had another woman report at the same time as me. But her story is not mine to tell. If you or anyone you know has had a similar experience with him, I'd love to connect, you can email me at In looking at Rate My Professor, a bunch of people mention his advising made them feel dumb and incapable of succeeding. The site doesn't say which are women. One user even said "DO NOT LET THIS MAN KILL YOUR DREAMS". 

Please join me in calling on the University of Illinois to do better and remove this man from his position as an academic advisor.

Now that I've made it known to those I reported to initially at the university that I planned to be more public with my story, they are eager to get me on the phone or in person to talk more. But I've already talked to three different departments and people at the university and still nothing concrete has been done besides these 'talking tos'. So if what this man said to me doesn't violate and university rules or laws, then I guess the next step would be changing the rules such that it does. No woman should be treated differently due to her marital status. No woman should be advised to end her education if she wants to pursue it. No woman should have a man in power shoot her down with such intensity and then have to fight for years to make sure other women don't get the same treatment.
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