I was forced to say “sorry” – Diversity at Yale

Hello all, I posted about this issue earlier in the year, which resulted in an empty blog post. However, this was more of a teaser to indicate that I wanted to talk about this topic, yet was unable to appropriately express the feelings and concerns I had about this dilemma.

For me this started when one of my former colleagues left Yale, and where I was placed in a scenario of being situated in another person’s laboratory. And for a while I decided to let it go; however, when I started working at Yale again I had another incident occur, which made me fundamentally believe there was a pattern of behavior at this institution that I was completely blind to. 

Why now? Well over the years, not talking about this issue rather than talking about it has essentially put me in a worse overall situation.  I think for now I will wait on the details, because I do not want to step over any boundaries regarding legal issues. However I wanted to communicate with everyone that I was placed in a very uncomfortable and awkward series of situations while at Yale. I also wanted to explain to other’s how I felt about my academic family’s behavior for the past couple of years.

Please be considerate here, as I have reported these incidents to Yale’s diversity and inclusion, and human resources departments. So I  am not trying to dodge anything, yet just trying to convey feelings without there being any legal concerns. 

Yet, bottom line, I was essentially I was sexually harassed. I tried to avoid it or think it was me in some way.  However:

 

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Directly from the United States EEOC office – 

“It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex.  Importantly, both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

“Harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

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So are two incidents a pattern?  I think it is.  Like an alternating colored striped shirt (blue and white).

So when I work at  a particular location and I was let go after the supervisor continued to find new reasons to let me go after the incident occurred?  I think that’s severe.

And I guess with this post I wanted to convey that I have been really hurt and affected socio-economically because even the checks and balances at Yale didn’t seems to fully work.  Because when I reported these issues it seemed that nothing came of it.

I mean I understand I am a white male, and perhaps this can be perceived as a white man’s complaining. Yet I never believed in belittling someone or treating them inappropriately because of their gender, race, or economic background. …..

That would be discrimination.

In fact, that is one of the reasons I started RNA vision. I think instead of the band-aid approach, by hiring people because they are of a certain background, we should fix the system from the bottom up. Instill in others the passion and excitement, regarding science, math, and technology. Explain to them the economic benefits, and career opportunities available to those with advanced degrees in math, technology, and science. Yet continually support opportunities for everyone to succeed within these fields. Provide internships and working opportunities for those that want to make difference, and for those who have passion regarding these topics.

For instance my company has had approximately six or so interns who were mostly students, develop writing projects, manage lab space, and develop teaching programs. All have been from different backgrounds, and all are welcome to use me as a reference if it helps their careers.

With this as an example, I fundamentally believe a new model within our education system is required. We as a culture in the United States need to foster, a naturally diverse population of scientists with rich cultural experiences that will in fact benefit all human kind. This is because diversity in the scientific community will promote the development of more relevant and culturally engaging questions. While this system will take time to build, I fundamentally disagree that the approach should be to forcibly move people out of science because they are male, or female, or black, or poor. That creates a culture of a uniformity within science. If that approach continues, science will ultimately fail. 

So to conclude this particular post for now, I would say, I am hopeful my academic family can believe in my mission, that we can work together to solve some fairly large challenges facing our society, and that we can move towards a path of healing rather than the silly infighting that will not result in substantive change within the United States education system. 

So I end on a positive note by saying spread love not hate, and to provide readers with a great excerpt from the Scientific American:

“This is how diversity works: by promoting hard work and creativity; by encouraging the consideration of alternatives even before any interpersonal interaction takes place. The pain associated with diversity can be thought of as the pain of exercise. You have to push yourself to grow your muscles. The pain, as the old saw goes, produces the gain. In just the same way, we need diversity—in teams, organizations and society as a whole—if we are to change, grow and innovate”. — Katherine W. Phillips [https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/]

 

  • Written and edited by Brian D. Adams, PhD, President of The Brain Institute of America. 
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