It’s official: it’s not OK to poll your students on what grade to give fellow student who gives birth

In case you were wondering.

When the story first surfaced in January, it struck some as so unlikely that they questioned its veracity. Many women in science, however, said that the story rang true to them. Maybe they hadn’t experienced exactly the same thing, but they said they had seen plenty of senior male faculty members who were clueless at best and discriminatory at worst about responding to students or faculty members who become mothers.

The story was that a department chair in the veterinary school at the University of California at Davis had polled a class on what grade he should give to a student who had to miss some quizzes because she had given birth. On Monday afternoon, the university released a statement from Edward Feldman, chair of the medicine and epidemiology department, in which he apologized for the incident in his class, and said that he was complying with the university’s request to step down as chair.

We reported on this story earlier here.

I’m glad he’s apologising and stepping down, but is it really an adequate *punishment* to relieve someone of the endless admin duties of chairing a department?

Thanks, J!

3 thoughts on “It’s official: it’s not OK to poll your students on what grade to give fellow student who gives birth

  1. A chair of a large and grant heavy science department can have a salary bonus that is quite significant; $50,000 in some cases at my university. And he could also have administrative backup, including what used to be called a secretary. Finally, he’ll have access to the higher ups that other faculty won’t easily get, along with perks like being asked to special meetings, knowing what is going on, etc. I don’t know if that’s the case here, but losing the chairmanship is not necessarily just losing adminstrative responsibilities.

  2. I’m not sure what an appropriate response would be. An apology and stepping down seems good on the surface, but what about educating the male faculty members on their behaviour or having some kind of guideline about what to do when a student misses class because of birth. Even if he didn’t ask his students, a guess at a grade doesn’t seem fair.

  3. Loni, I agree. This shouldn’t assume he hasn’t influenced attitudes in the dept.

Comments are closed.