The aim of this paper is to investigate the symbolic meaning attributed by women in academia to workplace artifacts. The research approach is that of auto-ethnography, whereby the authors, as researchers and participants, explore symbolic meaning from artifacts in their working environment. Three themes emerged on the symbolic meaning from artifacts for women in academia. The theme of "affect" revealed women as uncomfortable in their surroundings; "representation", renders women invisible within the institution; and women felt themselves to be under "surveillance". The investigation is limited to one university, which limits generalizability. The implication is to replicate this auto-ethnographical study in other institutions of higher education. This paper implies that architectural, institutional and personal artifacts play an important role in defining women's workplace identity. Women in academia identify themselves as "outsiders" in the workplace because of the symbolic meaning they attribute to artifacts. This study on women in academia is original as it is the first auto-ethnographical study on artifacts in an international institution of higher education.