A few days ago an article was published in Science on sexism in academia, written by a postdoc about her abusive supervisor.
Whenever I read such stories they deeply move me. I, too, have experienced similar situations, at different universities, in different countries, on different continents; as the affected person and as a friend or colleague, and with both male and female professors.
Apart from the article content itself the fact that it had to be published anonymously to protect the author concerns me. In our society and in academia in particular the victims (or survivors) of misbehaving supervisors are punished when going public while professors usually don’t have to worry about any consequences.
While writing this post I started describing my own experiences but stopped as it created a feeling of extreme paralyzation and helplessness in me, while at the same time this is mixed with anger and rage.
Articles on personal experiences of sexism are important as they reveal that sexism in academia is not a personal private problem but a structural one.
When people grow up in a patriachal society and then get the privileges and power of professorship with students who are completely dependent on them, and often even have to leave the country if they have to leave the university (unless they find a legal alien or citizen to marry them) is toxic.
I believe we are now at a point that we have to ask ourselves: do we really want to live in such a society? And is this an environment in which creative and innovative research can thrive?
All sexist and discriminatory behaviour must become socially ostracized!
Here you can find the article in Science which I referred to.
Another interesting recent article is this from CNNtech.