to think he handled this atrociously?

(53 Posts)
CailinDana Thu 17-Oct-13 08:41:41

My younger sis has mild cerebral palsy resulting in hemiplegia which means she has weakness on the right side of her body. She can walk and talk fine, it mainly affects her hand, which is quite weak. The way my utterly useless parents have "helped" her with this is by totally ignoring it. She didn't even know what was wrong with her until she was old enough to look it up herself.
The only positive side effect of this neglect is that she has not let her disability hold her back at all. The flip side is that she never ever asks for help.
Anyhow, she has just completed her masters in biochemistry and is starting her PhD. She has had some trouble with lab procedures but she has managed them all in the end. She did really well in the masters and supervisors were vying to have her. She now has a PhD supervisor who cosied up to her and persuaded her to work with him (partly due to her excellent funding, won off her own merit.)
He called her into his office yesterday. Apparently someone she was working with in the lab told him about her hand and he was really annoyed she had "hidden it from him" and started banging on about how the lab could lose its accreitation if she did a specific procedure incorrectly (this is bullshit btw).
DSis was in floods of tears. He didn't say anything to make her feel better or suggest any help she could get and she left his office still crying.
Aibu to think that while it would have been sensible for her to tell him clearly she can do her work and the way he treated her was atrocious? Anyone who has practical advice on how to handle this, it would be very helpful. I already advised her to go to the disability support service.

KeatsiePie Fri 25-Oct-13 17:44:48

Good for her for saying he has no right and no business to "start telling people." What an asshole. I hope she's going to get the department and whoever else would be appropriate (sorry not in the UK so don't know who exactly) involved. She really cannot allow him to wreck her career and it sounds like he is hoping if he "starts telling people" enough (totally unwarranted) negativity will accumulate that she will have to leave the lab under a cloud.

I kind of think she should leave the lab anyway, though, is it too late for her to change to a different PhD supervisor? Seems like it would be better if she switched, if that can be done in a way that makes it clear that she is going to another professor's lab and will be an asset there as she would have been to this idiot.

Scrubberfucker Fri 25-Oct-13 18:19:55

My brother had an arsehole supervisor for his PhD who tried to jeopardize his data and results every step of the way. It took him 8 long years to finish it and it was a nightmare, but he did it. Not wanting to give in to the bastard and leave spurred him on.

Hope your sis stays strong.

I too have mild right hemiparesis with most of the damage concentrated in the hand. Rarely if ever declare it on job applications as it just wouldn't occur to me to do so.

The definition of a disability under the DDA is an impairment which has a "substantial and long term adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities".. Does this apply to your sister? Doesn't sound like it. And if not, why should she have to declare something before any hypothetical obstacles materialise?

She should definitely seek advice from the uni's disability service. If the supervisor is so concerned about her ability to carry out her role, his first thought should be around what reasonable adjustments can be put in place to help with various tasks she finds difficult.

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