Monday, June 29, 2009

- Fucking unbelievable

Typically I am in disagreement with posts about how women are discriminated against in science departments. It has been my experience that both women and men are treated equally and I regarded scientists like MsPhD and FSP as mostly bitter, unhappy people. Until now.

A friend of mine, who is also a graduate student in a physics department, just found out she was pregnant. Apparently it wasn't planned so she is very surprised and since she is relatively young, also scared. She is a fifth year, foreign student. Being a foreign student puts a lot of conditions on your status (full time student every semester, working at most 20 hrs/week for example). She is also close to, but not there yet, graduation. So she went to her advisor to inform him and see how to work out the future situation and the idiot didn't like the news. His response was that, since she uses dangerous chemicals for her experiments she wasn't going to be able to do that now that she is pregnant. Then he went on to explain (in a bad mood apparently) how his funding was going to suffer because of her pregnancy. As if the reason why he isn't so scientically profitable is because his students get pregnant. These are enough reasons to think/know he is an idiot, but what was just way too fucking much was that after laying out all the points why this pregnancy wasn't ideal he asked... so, are you going to keep it? What a fucking asshole.

The sad part is that this girl is so worried about her being pregnant, plus scared because she is foreign that she won't pursue any legal action against her advisor. I hope she does, and I hope he gets fucked big time. This shit shouldn't happen in our times, it shouldn't happen at universities where supposedly smart people work.

Anyways, I guess FSP, MsPhD and anyone else out there who has shared an experience in which they were not treated equally than their male coworkers deserve an apology from me. I am sorry this shit happens to you and I hope it gets better. I will now keep my eyes (more) open and take action if I witness any type of abuse.

5 comments:

Schlupp said...

"she wasn't going to be able to do that now that she is pregnant."

Could you perhaps clarify, please? Did he "just" make the stupid comments that you cite, did he suggest she could not graduate anytime soon, or did he fire her, because he thinks she cannot do the work?

R said...

Schlupp,

This "problem" just happened so I am not sure of what will happen to her. I know the advisor is not happy with her being pregnant. The part that makes it worst is that after talking to her advisor she is now convinced she is wrong. She is also not talking much about it, but as soon as I find out more about the situation I will post it here.

On another topic, you made your blog private? I used to read it though I never commented on it. Now I can't get access :(, what happened?

Schlupp said...

Meh. I've seen that happen before, too: That the victims think that the boss is right after all.

My blog is dead anyway, all you'd see there are a few pictures. If I reopen it or get t new one, I'll tell you.

Schlupp said...

"she won't pursue any legal action against her advisor."

Come to think of it: Action for what, actually?

The guy may be an asshole, but that's not illegal. He suggested an abortion which would be illegal in some countries (where abortions are illegal), but not the US. He may be suggesting pregnancy-related discrimination, but as long as he doesn't actually do anything, it still only amounts to legal levels of meanness. Finally, he is probably creating a hostile environment, which is technically illegal but hard to prove: Basically, there was just one incident, where it would come down to her word against his.

I do not want to suggest that you anger at him is not justified, because it is.

R said...

You are right, if she decided to take any action, it would be very difficult to prove that he said that.

Legal action as in he goes to court is really very unlikely to happen. When you start working for that University, they give you a course on what kinds of things you can do/say that are considered illegal (racist comments, gende discrimination, etc). They don't tell you anything about pregnancy but they do make it clear that any comment that is not related to work and that puts pressure on a subordinate is not allowed. I am sure this case wouldn't go to a criminal court, maybe civil but even if it doesn't get to that he could be at least fired from or punished by the University.

I've tried to talk to her more, but she is not saying anything. It is my impression though that she will be able to stay in the group.