A woman is being excluded from the scientific community and is struggling to find funding for her research.
The Women in Science blog published a series of articles last week detailing the plight of a woman in a research position at the University of Exeter, where she had been working for two years.
In one post, published on Sunday, the post-doctoral researcher wrote that the “problem is pervasive and needs urgent attention”.
It’s important to be aware of the biases and prejudices that we all face in science, she wrote.
She said the “climate” of the research community at the time had been hostile to women.
“In my position, I had to make a choice: be a woman, or be treated like a man,” she wrote, adding that the university had been reluctant to hire a woman scientist.
She went on to say that she “felt that if I did not want to pursue research on gender bias, then I was being a ‘shill’ and that this was unfair”.
“This feeling was so strong and was not only felt in my personal life, but was felt by the entire scientific community at university,” she continued.
This was not just a matter of my personal experiences, but a systemic issue.””
I was told that I was the one who would have to work as a woman.
This was not just a matter of my personal experiences, but a systemic issue.”
A year earlier, a woman who was working as a research assistant for the university’s Centre for Women in Chemistry had been told by her supervisor that she had “too many male colleagues”.
The university had “not given me an opportunity to say anything about this”, the post explained, so she had to leave the position.
In another post, she said that she was “being punished for a decision I had made long ago, and I feel like I’m being punished for the decisions I made long before I was a scientist”.
“My colleagues are being told to shut up about their own bias,” she said.
“And I feel guilty.
I am not the one being punished.”
The post said she was also told that she could “no longer use [her] own words as evidence for my research”.
The post went on: “I was asked by a professor how I could possibly do research on the subject, and she told me that it was not possible.
[The professor] went on in her lecture to say ‘well, that’s the way it works.
You don’t know that you’re being biased’.”
A professor who had known the woman for a year told her that she should be “shamed” if she continued her work, and the professor was “sickened” by the comment.
Another post shared by the post showed the professor being “shouted” at by a female colleague, who also felt like she was being “discriminated against”.
The professor had not told the woman that she made a “mistake”, she said, but the professor “said she had a problem”.
She told the professor that she would have no choice but to “apologise” and “do something” about the problem.
The post continued:”This behaviour is part of a culture at the university that is hostile to female scientists.
The university’s attitude towards women scientists has been so negative that many women who have spoken out in support of me have had to face discrimination, harassment and bullying.
The experience of women scientists is one of the main reasons I feel I need to leave my position.”
The professor was also threatened with “immediate dismissal” for speaking out.
“There is an atmosphere of misogyny in the university where we are not valued and respected,” she explained.
“The atmosphere is not conducive to a strong scientific enterprise.”