Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sexism in Science

"The director of the Royal Institution was made redundant last week because her contract made it almost impossible to remove her any other way, it has been claimed.

Sources in the science community said scrapping the position was the only way to make Baroness Greenfield leave the financially struggling organisation.

The peer persuaded the trustees to spend £22million refurbishing the Georgian Mayfair base of the RI in an attempt to turn it into the “Groucho Club for science”. The ambitious project failed and the RI is now reported to be £3 million in debt."


It seems she has brought this august institution to its knees. This is gross financial incompetence by a leader. How can she not expect to be fired after that? What kind of contract does she have in which she cannot be fired? Can I please have one?

The right course of action for her would have been to resign after the financial disaster she apparently engineered. But instead she is suing - and, surprise, surprise, playing the sexism card.

"On Friday, the RI said her position was no longer affordable. Lady Greenfield responded by saying she would take her former employers to an employment tribunal and her claim would include sexual discrimination."

You don't have to be a scientist to work out that the RI cannot afford to pay her salary because she has squandered all its money. By suing for compensation she intends to plunge it even further into debt! Is it just me, or is that adding insult to injury? Greenfield seems to have something of an ego, and an over-inflated sense of personal entitlement.

"She became a bit too convinced of her own infallibility and relied on her own counsel. I think most people around her had become quite distant - she did not think they had the power to depose her.”

At the weekend, Professor Lisa Jardine, chairman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said “Removing Susan Greenfield is tantamount to closing the institution."

What nonsense. No-one individual is that important. Plunging it into financial ruin is what will cause the closure of the RI. I get the impression Jardine is more interested in an ideological agenda about the profile of women in science, than she is about the RI.

The handkerchiefs may be coming out for Greenfield, but no-one seems to be concerned about the possible demise of the British Royal Institution, a considerable national asset, as well as a global scientific asset, incalculably more important than Greenfield's (or any other) career. Nor does anyone seem willing to condemn Greenfield for her gross financial mismanagement. I think that that is where the sexism is really to be found in this case.


JimmyGiro said...

What did Peter Atkins ever see in her?

Eric Legge said...

Am I correct to say that the government has filled the BBC with female personnel, that it is attempting to make it look as if women rule the world by having females interviewing mostly females?

I think that appointing Baroness Greenfield is part of that screwball process.

A similar policy was enacted in most African countries where the colonists were ousted in favour of indigenous people with no track record of accomplishment, usually with disasterous consequences.

Richard Ford said...

A further footnote to this issue is that membership of the Royal Institution gives the member the right to place the letters R.I after their name.

Membership may now be obtained by anyone with a few pounds to spare. For aprximately £40 one can stand alongside some of the greatest minds in history. No knowlage of science is required and I expect many purchacers are promoting dodgy medical treatments.

Talk about cheapening the brand!!!!

BrusselsLout said...

Membership may now be obtained by anyone with a few pounds to spare.

And then there'll come a time when it'll be free for women. Got to address the gender imbalance, don'tcha know.

Richard Ford said...

There is already an element of this going on. They have a very good little museum at the HQ dedicated mostly to Faraday and the superstar victorian scientists- but the role of women is clearly over emphasised.

Nevertheless it is a worthy venture. We need propper heroes in this country rather than big brother 'celebrities'. When Britain had an empire we also had scientists who could not leave the house without women throwing their pettycoats at them. I think there is a connection.

It is a pity that the venture seems to have failed and I take no pleasure in it. I would advise everyone to see the museum which is free. It seems a worthy target for lottery cash. I hope it gets some.