Science's bullying problem

#1
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuros...3nYgn4naS4

EXCERPT: . . . Each of these researchers are (or were) at the top of their fields, recipients of huge amounts of funding. They are accused of abuses of power, bullying and abuse of their subordinates and creating a climate of fear in their institutions. It would be easy to look to the personal characteristics of these three scientists to understand what’s going on. For instance, all three are women, and two (Singer and Kauffmann) are directors of Max Planck Institutes (MPIs), highly prestigious research organizations which offer directors a greater degree of independence compared to a traditional university post.

However, in this post, I’m going to suggest that to understand how cases such as these come about, we might need to look to the nature of academic science as a whole. While stories involving mega-scientists and MPI directors are the ones that make the headlines, the problem goes deeper. I’ve seen it myself and heard plenty of stories. I don’t have all of the answers by any means, but here are some thoughts on three factors that, in my opinion, can create conditions favorable for bullying in science.

Idealism. Most people working in science are highly motivated to be there, and not for financial reasons. [...] I suspect that it can make scientists, who are victims of abuse, less likely to protest [...]

Promotion. I have often heard it said that senior scientists tend to lack management skills because “they’re not promoted for their management ability”. [...]

Prestige. [...] senior figures also have enormous prestige [...] This makes them powerful indeed and makes blowing the whistle on them doubly daunting [...]

MORE: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuros...3nYgn4naS4
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#2
(Aug 20, 2018 08:06 PM)C C Wrote: They are accused of abuses of power, bullying and abuse of their subordinates and creating a climate of fear in their institutions. It would be easy to look to the personal characteristics of these three scientists to understand what’s going on. For instance, all three are women...

Nuff said. You cannot use such a non-representative sample to infer anything of academic science in general.
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#3
@Syne,

OP Wrote:It would be easy to look to the personal characteristics of these three scientists to understand what’s going on. For instance, all three are women..
We might ponder that a male leader might promote people who agree with him - this sows the seeds of accord in an organisation.

I have worked in two organisations (not for long) where I would have automatically advanced a grade every year (5.1,5.2...) and a grade 7 would automatically be above (in prestige and salary) a grade 6 - there can be few grounds for discord in such a system.

We could suggest that the best strategy is to appoint professional managers to run a science establishment. The professional manager would automatically be paid more than any of their employees. So we take the geese that lay the golden eggs and insult them and belittle them until they go elsewhere.

We might ponder that a female leader, outside the old buddy system, might promote on the grounds of ability and suitability for the post - this (clearly) sows the seeds of discord.

So (Syne)... what strategy would you suggest to run (say) the Fermi Laboratory?
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#4
No, managers who don't understand the subject matter wouldn't know how to evaluate the relevant merit in promotions. In academia, promotions usually follow success in research and published papers. Women likely breed a contentious workplace because they see all subordinates as threats to their position...likely passing over the most professionally threatening for promotions and acting out on their insecurities.
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#5
I think we are discussing top dog females.
Any evidence (possibly anecdotal) to support your claim?
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#6
The OP...only mentioning these problems in relation to women.
The generally catty nature of women.
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