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The Public Downfall of Bora Zivkovic

While it’s tempting in any scandal to pathologize the perpetrator and banish him from town, the recent revelations about Bora Zivkovic better serve as a reminder of human frailty. But Bora’s actions are still inexcusable in a professional and perhaps a wider social context, and an especial shock considering his advocacy for women in science. As Greg Laden writes, “the online science community is struggling with what to do when a man known for his good will and in particular his promotion of women and minorities is found to be part of the problem.” We’re not talking about rape or violence here; we’re talking about words, hands, and feelings. But even the gentlest of sexual harassment contributes to a very one-sided phenomenon, and overlaps with a similar imbalance in professional power that lingers between men and women. No one pursuing personal and professional development should have sex held over their head. On Uncertain Principles, Chad Orzel says that in the wake of Bora’s resignation from its board of directors, Science Online needs to get serious and reign in the easiness and intoxication. Bora, a former ScienceBlogger and cheerleader for the trustbusting that occurred here in the midst of Pepsipocalypse, also resigned from his role as Blog Editor at Scientific American.  For more perspective on sexual harassment in academia, read Ethan Siegel’s open letter to all men in science.

Posted to the homepage on October 28, 2013.