News: Scientist advises student to put up with leering


I read this article and I could not believe somebody gave that advice on ‘Science’ or maybe I can. Scientists are equally sexist and participate in patriarchy as much as we like to believe they do not. Science later removed the article.

Excerpts from the article – 

“Dear Alice,

Q: I’ve just joined a new lab for my second postdoc. It’s a good lab. I’m happy with my project. I think it could really lead to some good results. My adviser is a good scientist, and he seems like a nice guy. Here’s the problem: Whenever we meet in his office, I catch him trying to look down my shirt. Not that this matters, but he’s married. “

“Dear Bothered,

A: Your adviser may not even be aware of what he is doing.

As long as your adviser does not move on to other advances, I suggest you put up with it, with good humor if you can.

Alice Huang; PhD

Science removed this article but Bloomberg still has it. Read more at link.

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6 thoughts on “News: Scientist advises student to put up with leering

  1. Agree. I dealt with some not so nice profs. Not sexist but got away being difficult/unfair. Somehow they need to incorporate checks and balances. Maybe there should have an independent body (removed from both students and staff) that governs university policies and practices. Such a body would be able to uncover and correct any malpractices.

    1. Yes, they need it so much. It is funny how some universities constantly threaten students by cutting their scholarships & making them pay additional fees when their standards (like grades or deadlines for thesis submission) are not met but profs? Nobody cuts their salary. They can refuse to read their students thesis and go on a holiday for 2 months. They can refuse to pass the thesis for 1 year. Force students to leave. But nobody questions them. 1 complain and they blame the student than the prof.

  2. I think sexism is a big problem in academia. Many grad level students enjoy their very narrow/ specialized work and it is difficult to change professors because they are so deeply tied to their particular research project. The professor has “control” in this situation, which can be misused with impunity, if he/she is unethical/sexist. Perhaps universities must put stricter codes of behavior in place and make it easier for students to report sexist behavior without jeopardizing their academic future.

    1. Agree. On the other hand it really does not matter because it is your word against theirs and universities always pick the staff’s side and it is really very difficult to get other grad students to speak up in support. Nobody wants to jeopardize their chances of graduation and it is so very easy for profs to make your life hell if you cross their path.

      That is one of the reasons I do not like academia – your entire work and degree rests on one jerk’s (or not a jerk) signature. This kind of power play makes it impossible to be fair. Students have no recourse most of the time and I can say that from personal experience and experience of other grad students. The entire system is plain wrong.

      That is why I prefer jobs over academia. If I hate my boss, I can leave and I can not give a shit but where the hell is one supposed to go in academia. Any bloody post doc, they ask for letters of recommendation from your prof, any job, they ask for it. What if your boss does not want to let you go because there is nobody left to do the project? You are completely at the whim of one person.

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