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clarification/32P incident

Sarah Boomer sarai at u.washington.edu
Tue Oct 22 14:31:30 EST 1996

Dear Chong and others,

	My overall post was in regards the to the thread on having babies
during a scientific training.  I thought that this case (the P32 poisoning
allegations), which - the last I heard - is in progress as a civil case,
was a terrifically extreme example of what seems to happen during some
women's (and a growing number of men's) training:  namely, that the PI
seems to think that he or she can advise them on personal family issues
such as choosing to have a child.  My question about what can be done was
generally aimed at asking people out there what students or post-docs or
PIs think is a good approach to stop this kind of advising on
non-professional topics - in the workplace.
	Clearly, the post-docs in question at the NIH have chosen to file
a civil suit (and I was curious if people had read heard how that case was
going in the courts).  This seems an outrageous thing to do but seems
warrented given the allegations that I read/heard in the news.  What
concerns me more, though, is just the general advising and recommendations
that this thread as conjured up (people repeatedly saying their boss felt
it was their place to advise them on not having a child, considering other
options, getting an abortion).  All these ideas formed a basis for the
civil suit that is being brought at the NIH.  What can the rest of us do
when faced with more subtle advice in a similar vein?  
	Am I wrong to somehow assume that this constitutes professional
misconduct?  How, in general, should it be handled?  Basically, I feel
that any students or post-docs face severe career problems if they even
try to put forth such complaints either directly to the boss or to the
university/higher structure.  It seems clear that the problem isn't going
away and, as the grants become tighter, it is only going to get worse
because of the pressure to produce and produce and produce. 


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