Tag Archives: sexual harassment

Sexual Harassment in the Sciences

Amazon.com: Pinsanity Science Not Silence Enamel Lapel Pin: Jewelry

Image courtesy of Pinsanity Store

  • Nancy Hopkins, PhD, a geneticist and cancer researcher who served as Professor of Biology at MIT for 40 years [1], was sexually harassed by Nobel Prize winning British molecular biologist, Francis Crick OM FRS, one of the two men credited with discovering the structure of DNA [2][3A]. Crick casually placed his hands on Hopkins’ breasts while inquiring about her research, as if that were a normal thing to do.
  • Jane Willenbring, PhD, a geomorphologist and Assoc. Professor of Earth Sciences at Stanford University, winner of the prestigious Antarctica Service Medal [4][5], was sexually harassed by glacial geologist, David Marchant, PhD after whom the Matataua Glacier was originally named [3B][6][7]. Marchant expressed open hostility toward Willenbring, repeatedly referring to her by such derogatory terms as “slut”, “whore”, and “cunt”; denigrating her work; tormenting her with painful practical jokes; and ultimately denying her funding.

As of 2017, women constituted only 29% of the STEM (science/technology/engineering/mathematics) professionals in the United States [3C].

As research has now objectively demonstrated, major factors in this are the implicit and explicit gender discrimination and sexual harassment women face in these male dominated fields.

False Assumptions

The assumption has been that the sciences are apolitical, and free of bias; that sexual harassment does not exist in the sciences.  The assumption has been that women are simply unsuited for STEM; that they lack the necessary interest, dedication, and intellect to succeed; that their very biology makes them somehow inadequate to the task.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, bullying, Justice, Law

Sexual Harassment in India

MeToo: Priya Ramani acquitted in defamation case filed by MJ Akbar - The Week

MJ Akbar (left), Priya Ramani (right), Image courtesy of The Week https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2021/02/17/metoo-priya-ramani-acquitted-in-defamation-case-filed-by-mj-akbar.html.

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Earlier this year, an Indian court acquitted journalist, Priya Ramani, in a criminal defamation case by former government minister, MJ Akbar, for accusing him of sexual misconduct [1].

Ramani had alleged in a social media post that she was sexually harassed by Akbar in 1993, when called to a Mumbai hotel for a job interview.  Following Ramani’s allegations, over 20 other women came forward to make similar allegations against Akbar.  As a result, Akbar was forced to step down, though not before he filed suit. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Justice, Law, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

Palm Oil – The High Cost of Beauty

Female palm oil workers, Author benkataro, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)

Palm oil is the most popular vegetable oil on earth, widely touted for its health and beauty benefits.

Palm oil is used in such everyday products as lipstick, shampoo, ice cream, chocolate, margarine, instant noodles, and pizza dough [1][2]. Claims are made that palm oil can prevent cancer, stem heart disease, treat dementia, slow aging, and aid weight loss [3].

The uncontrolled clearing of rain forests for palm oil plantations has led to a significant loss in these bio-diverse habitats.  Now, an investigation by the Associated Press has confirmed that the mistreatment of female palm oil workers in Malaysia and Indonesia is commonplace [4A]:

  • Many women work without pay to help their husbands or fathers meet unrealistic daily quotas.
  • Women routinely perform some of the industry’s most physically taxing jobs, sometimes carrying loads so heavy they can cause uterine collapse. Infertility, miscarriages, and stillbirths are the result.
  • Women, also, spray dangerous pesticides without protective gear. Activists say some have lost their sight, as a consequence.
  • Added to this, women frequently face sexual harassment. This can range from suggestive comments to outright rape.  In fear for their jobs, victims rarely report such abusive interactions.  Families may actually force victims to marry their rapists, if a pregnancy occurs.

Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, Rape, Religion, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

Progress

Lawyer Belva Ann Lockwood, Authors Matthew Brady/Levin Corbin Handy, Source Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division http://loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpbh.04374/ (PD)

Roger Ailes (founder, Chairman, and CEO of the Fox News Channel) has stepped down in the face of a barrage of sexual harassment complaints by female employees.  An investigation by parent corporation, 21st Century Fox, in response to a lawsuit by Gretchen Carlson, uncovered at least 20 similar claims, capped by that of star anchor, Megyn Kelly [1].

Fox has long been known for a frat boys atmosphere, so this is progress.

When I first thought about becoming a lawyer, there were only 3%-4% women in the American legal profession.  At the first client gala I ever attended, the senior partner introduced me with the words, “This is the shape lawyers come in now.”  At the first golf outing I ever attended, I could not join clients at the bar.  It was restricted against women.

Conservatively attired in the most formal business suits I could find, I was in the early days routinely mistaken for witnesses, court reporters, and women from the services responsible for tracking court dates, until I identified myself as the lawyer on a case.  I was paid less than my male counterparts, often working longer hours, but made partner at a time that was still a rare achievement for women.

Mind you, Belva Ann Lockwood (1830-1917) had been the first woman lawyer to argue before the US Supreme Court a full century earlier. Continue reading

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The Dysfunctional Lawyer, Part 1

“The Cry of Justice” by Frank Varley
Auckland Punch Magazine (1868)

“‘Let us choose justice for ourselves…'” (Job 34: 4).

It takes great courage to flee an abusive relationship, and confront an abuser.

While criminal matters are generally handled through the District Attorney’s Office on the state level and the US Attorney’s Office on the federal level, abuse victims seeking divorce or money damages for their pain and suffering will need to pursue civil litigation.

Civil lawyers can be found who specialize in victims’ rights following rape, child abuse, domestic abuse, elder abuse, clergy abuse, and sexual harassment.

A good lawyer can help restore the abuse victim’s life. A dysfunctional lawyer (or a dysfunctional relationship with an otherwise good lawyer) can delay the process, undermining an abuse victim’s already tenuous confidence.

Abuse Victims as Clients

Abuse victims deserve a dedicated advocate: someone whose honesty is above reproach, who will be diligent in pursuing their case, who will communicate on all critical matters, and whose legal judgment can be relied upon as sound.

Fortunately, there are many lawyers meeting these criteria.

A. Cost

Cost is likely to be the first criteria abuse victims consider, in choosing a lawyer.

Personal injury litigation is usually taken on a contingency basis, for a percentage of the ultimate recovery. What that percentage can be differs somewhat from state to state. Thirty percent for the lawyer is typical.

The legal fees in other types of cases, for example divorce or bankruptcy, are usually calculated on an hourly basis. This can be a challenge for abuse victims, who may not have much in the way of funds.

Legal aid is available across the country, but the types of civil cases covered will vary. Abuse victims should check with their local offices.

Victims organizations like WomensLaw.org and RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) can be a good source of information. Most bar associations will, also, have referral services with lists of lawyers in various specialties. Often an initial consultation will be free or at a reduced rate.

B. Credentials

Thousands upon thousands of lawyers advertise, online and elsewhere. Whatever claims may be made in ads, victims should remember that lawyers are not superhuman, and that a verdict awarding money damages in their favor (particularly a large amount) is not guaranteed.

Since a lawyer can be instrumental in improving a client’s circumstances, the lawyer’s credentials should be carefully scrutinized, in the same way one might review the credentials of a physician.

Abuse victims will find lawyer ratings available online, but should not rely exclusively on these. Many fine lawyers are never rated. The recommendation of a friend can be as valuable.

C. Questions

For their own well-being, abuse victims should speak up. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Justice, Law, Violence Against Women