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UC Post Docs Highlight Harassment Issues

Post-doctoral fellows at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) are coming forward with stories of mistreatment from their supervising professors. One female post-doctoral fellow, who is pregnant and in the U.S. on a work visa, said her professor retaliated against her after the fellow expressed concerns about data manipulation. The professor did not renew her contract following her complaint. Without a contract, this fellow cannot complete her work and stay in the U.S. Five other fellows accused another professor of retaliating against one member for taking maternity leave, threatening to fire them, and professionally punishing them. UCSD will not comment about these instances but says it prioritizes the “health, well-being, and safety of the [its] campus community” and takes the allegations of harassment seriously.

UCSD is not the only campus to face these types of allegations. Similar allegations have come up at the University of California, Berkeley, where a numerous individuals accused a faculty member of frequent harassment and violating the school's Honor Code requiring "honesty, integrity, and respect for others.” The Office of the President for the University of California system is looking at implementing a policy on abusive conduct to “cover abusive conduct and retaliation in the workplace.”

Interestingly, the passage of the recent federal CHIPS and Science Act touches on the treatment of women in the sciences. The Act requires the National Science Foundation to pay attention to sex-based and sexual harassment. The NSF must collect data on harassment and discrimination in science. In addition, the federal government must fund research and sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination in the STEM workforce and develop approaches to prevent, address, and mitigate the negative impact of sex-based treatment.