Athena Swan

Athena Swan promotes and supports the careers of women in Science, Engineering and Technology (STEM), and aims to address gender inequalities and imbalance in these disciplines and, in particular, the under-representation of women in senior roles.

Monday, 1 June 2015

In the news - Help! My adviser won’t stop looking down my shirt!

Science Careers has a brilliant blog called Ask Alice, where early career researchers (broadly defined) can write for impartial advice on how to deal with the stresses, challenges and joys of academic life. This week's entry enters the grey area of behaviour that upsets some, but may not be obvious to others - what to do if your supervisor is more interested in your chest than your work? Alice's answer this time may not please everyone. What do you think?

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. 
What should I do? 

—Bothered
Dear Bothered,
A: Imagine what life would be like if there were no individuals of the opposite—or preferred—sex. It would be pretty dull, eh? Well, like it or not, the workplace is a part of life.
It’s true that, in principle, we’re all supposed to be asexual while working. But the kind of behavior you mention is common in the workplace. Once, a friend told me that he was so distracted by an attractive visiting professor that he could not concentrate on a word of her seminar. Your adviser may not even be aware of what he is doing.

Read more here

Update 17:12 - Blog entry was taken down by Science Careers, amid torrent of negative comments on Twitter. The Editor published the following instead:

The Ask Alice article, “Help! My adviser won’t stop looking down my shirt,” on this website has been removed by Science because it did not meet our editorial standards, was inconsistent with our extensive institutional efforts to promote the role of women in science, and had not been reviewed by experts knowledgeable about laws regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. We regret that the article had not undergone proper editorial review prior to posting. Women in science, or any other field, should never be expected to tolerate unwanted sexual attention in the workplace.

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