Add molecular biology to your list of fields that have a sexual harassment problem. A biologist at the University of Chicago (where only a quarter of the senior faculty are women, the article points out) has resigned in the midst of some damning accusations.
The professor, Jason Lieb, made unwelcome sexual advances to several female graduate students at an off-campus retreat of the molecular biosciences division, according to a university investigation letter obtained by The New York Times, and engaged in sexual activity with a student who was “incapacitated due to alcohol and therefore could not consent.”
Furthermore, there was some murky stuff in his background before he was hired.
Before he was hired, molecular biologists on the University of Chicago faculty and at other academic institutions received emails from an anonymous address stating that Dr. Lieb had faced allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct at previous jobs at Princeton and the University of North Carolina.
“Both U.N.C. and Princeton launched investigations,” the email read.
Yoav Gilad, a molecular biologist at Chicago who was on the committee that advocated hiring Dr. Lieb, said he and his fellow faculty members knew that in February 2014 Dr. Lieb had abruptly resigned from Princeton University, just seven months after having been recruited from the University of North Carolina to run a high-profile genomics institute.
You cannot refuse to hire someone because of an anonymous email. It can stimulate you to look more deeply, but you need something more substantive than that to reject someone. And to their credit, Chicago did look into it, and tried to find out what went on with that mysterious sudden departure from Princeton, only to be met by the traditional stony wall of silence, and a refusal to discuss what happened back there in New Jersey.
That’s a problem.
That a serial harasser can bounce from job to job to job, leaving a trail of disruption behind him, while the institutions work diligently to hide his trail, is one of the reasons this problem persists.