AI: Bad Colleagues


Say you work with someone you admire professionally and whose intellectual competence you trust in collaborations and group work of any kind.

And then you find out this person has a history of sexual harassment and inappropriate relationships with colleagues.

You’ve never seen it, and they are on their most respectful, professional and ethical behavior around you, still making a great contributor to your future scientific work.

How do you deal with that? Do you trust that they keep their personal and professional lives separate? Do you do something about it? Do you communicate your disappointment at them?

The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, at 3pm ET.

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  1. I’m the type of person to give the benefit of the doubt. Until they behave unethically around you, I would trust them to keep it separate.

    It seems presumptuous to say something preemptively. First of all, it will tell them that people are talking about them behind their back. It would also be you breaching into personal territory unnecessarily.

    Just my opinion! I’m probably waaay too trusting of people. But anyway, they might have been punished for it badly enough or something that they’ve discontinued the behavior. So we’d like to think.

  2. I’ve been in similar situations to this more than once. If the person in question is making positive contributions to my work/life and this “history” is not ongoing, I don’t confront them, both because it would be both very unlikely to do anyone any good (regardless of how much you trust your source, it still comes down to a he-said, she-said), and because it would be very likely to reduce or remove this person’s contributions to my life.

    However, I keep my eyes open and my fire-breathing glands primed for another incident occurring, either to me or to anyone else in the space. There’s not much any of us can do about the past, but I do consider it an ethical (and possibly self-preservative) imperative to keep it from reoccurring.

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