This morning I woke up to a twitter full of sexism and harassment stories. I want to highlight the Vanderbilt harassment lawsuit, where a former neuroscience graduate student is suing her advisor for harassment, abuse and discrimination of which you can read the full text here. I guess I should add a warning that what you will read is pretty shocking and unpleasant.
Some of the things that are described in this lawsuit are not completely foreign to me. I think many women will recognize the large grey area of things that happen for example at meetings that are uncomfortable but perhaps not bad enough to speak up about. Because I also understand very well that speaking up might damage the relationship that you have with your advisor, and might - on the short-term - make things worse. So what can you do as a grad student or post-doc when you feel uncomfortable - to say the least - with your advisor's behavior? Can you talk to other faculty, for example people on your committee, or do you feel that those people will automatically take the side of your advisor? Are there other people you can talk to at your university? I guess we might see this as a fire drill for all of us: find the nearest exit when there's no fire so you can use it in case you need it.