Dr. Karen Waldie, MSc'94, PhD'98 and Dr. Ian Kirk

Shortly after I first met Ian (I had just started my first year of my PhD), I was asked to present my Master’s findings to our area group. One component of my research involved self-esteem, a topic I was a touch ashamed to discuss in front of this group, as they were all hardened basic neuroscientists with little patience for “feelings” and other constructs typical in Psychology. As I suspected, I received a hard time during the question/answer period, particularly from this stranger Ian. I had had a similarly bad experience with him just the week before–after I had generously agreed to be the token female at a social volleyball game against a different department.

As I left the presentation room and started back to my office, I heard someone follow me. Turning around I realised it was this rude person Ian Kirk. I opened my office door and stood in the doorway to see what he wanted. “I heard you’ve decided to quit the volleyball team after just one game” he says to me. “Yes,” I replied, “it was not a fun experience for me, with you and some of the others constantly telling me what I was doing wrong.”

“Ahhhhh” he drawled in response, “did I hurt your self-esteem?” Right. That was it. I slammed my office door shut so loudly that people were talking about the rattle in the building long after. I vowed NEVER to  speak to this person ever again as long as I lived. Well, we have now been married for over 19 years, have a nine-year old son, and both work in the Psychology Department in Auckland, New Zealand. Must have been something in the Calgary water. 

Originally published in UCalgary Alumni Magazine.

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