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Do we have TCS “Harvey Weinsteins”?

October 19, 2017

Following the Harvey Weinstein scandal, I’d like to believe that the academic environment at large, and theoretical computer science in particular, is a much better environment than Hollywood. But we would be misleading ourselves to think that we are completely without our issues. This story can be an opportunity for each of us, men and women, to think what can we do to eradicate such behavior from our field. I don’t have any easy answers, but all of us, especially senior men in positions of influence, should try to do what we can and not look the other way. There is not much that can be more damaging for a person coming up in a field than somebody abusing and objectifying them rather than treating them as a colleague and an intellectual.

This is not exactly related, but what prompted me to write this post was hearing from a  friend (who is a non CS faculty in another part of the U.S.) whose children were kicked out from a private (non religious) school when the principal learned they come from an LGBT family. I was truly shocked that something like that can happen in a fairly large U.S. city. It got me thinking (again) of how easy it is to believe that such issues are a thing of the past, or happen in only the remotest parts of the world or the country, when you are not part of the affected population.

 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2017 2:44 am

    None of this is in the past – racism, sexism and homophobia is everywhere. Unfortunately, so are predatory behaviors (of sexual or of other nature). I am sadly aware that we (the theory community) are not immune. Not being as bad as Hollywood is little comfort. Thank you Boaz for raising this uncomfortable truth.

  2. October 19, 2017 11:22 pm

    a rather loaded/ shocking question to ask. weinstein is now worth ~$300M dollars and worked in a specific industry with the so-called “casting couch” and my feeling is that its anomalous and an outlier in many ways wrt other “industries” & academia. hollywood culture and nonhollywood culture are quite distinct entities in many ways.

    BUT! here is a case that one might say hits “close to home” for those working in an academic community. the situation is that yes, there are males in CS, and unf tendency toward mixed up boundaries wrt “making a pass vs sexual harassment vs assault” is “side-effect” characteristic of male gender (in small but persistent outlier cases), and feel am not saying this with any prejudice. feel its supported by scientific evolutionary psychology theory. (which maybe many would object to on political correctness grounds.) just ran across this link

    https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/01/23/complainant-unprecedented-walter-lewin-sexual-harassment-case-comes-forward

  3. Anonymous permalink
    November 10, 2017 11:13 pm

    Not really in TCS – but pretty close. The article talks about Sergio Verdu of Princeton.
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/princeton-professor-sexual-harassment-not-punished_us_5a01d203e4b0368a4e872655

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