Bullying In Modern Science: Is it spreading?

Boy being bullied


Bullying is the intentional mistreatment of someone malicious and intentionally hurtful. Bullying can be shouting, insulting, scaring, or even physically harming someone. It can also be in more subtle forms as well.

No one is a stranger to bullying. All of us have seen or participated in the act of bullying. As a stranger, as the victim, or sometimes as the bully. However, most of our faceoffs with bullying was in the school or college grounds. It was always the kid with braces, or the ugly kid, or the fat one who got bullied. We’ve all seen the movies and ignored the ones in our daily lives.

Bullying for Adults

But the act of Bullying is by no means restricted to children or teenagers. There are many cases where adults are harassed as well. They face bullies in their neighborhood, in their workplace, in public places like supermarkets, or on the Internet. It can be in the form of threats, harassment, or even a hate mail that they get in their inbox.

Acts of cyberbullying, racist comments and hate speech also come under bullying, and are often faced by adults. These prove how rampant and widespread it is, and that no one is safe.

Bullying in the Research community


A lot of movies have that stereotypical nerd or nerds who are often the victim. The story goes as the smart, but a shy and timid nerd is bullied by the jocks, who are often the sportsmen and are popular in school. And these nerds tend to be the ones who end up victorious in the end, becoming scientists and breaking free from bullying.

However, that is just a movie trope, and the reality is a lot worse. The scientific community has a bullying problem, as the incidents and statistics reveal. However, these acts thrive on silence, as most victims chose not to jeopardize their careers over this issue. The atmosphere of fear, combined with the threats from the bullies create the perfect environment for bullying to run rampant.

The Incidents

A notorious incident that came to light related to bullying in the field was at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. Nazneen Rahman, a top geneticist at the institute, was accused of bullying, and quit from the institute. And in an unprecedented move, her 4.5 million US dollars worth of research grant was also revoked. And she is not the only one.

In a case of cruel irony, the world’s leading empathy researcher had also been caught in allegations of harassing and intimidating her colleagues. Tania Singer, a notable neurologist and the world’s foremost expert on empathy has resigned from her job as the director of Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, due to these allegations. These are just the incidents that have surfaced.

Anti Harassment laws and Bullying

Harassment is a part of bullying, and anti-harassment laws protect people from it. But the main feature of these laws is that it prevents harassment based on some defining trait like sex or religion. Institutions in Britain have generalized anti-bullying laws, but it is not the case in the US. To be protected under them, the victim needs to show that they are being harassed due to their sex, race, religion or whatever feature the law demands. But the victims of bullying need not fit this bill.

The impact of bullying

Bullying is often a random act that is carried out for the sake of it, but it can also be targeted and malevolent. It can be subtle or apparent, ranging from hate mails to physical confrontation. But the consequences of bullying on the victim, as well as the atmosphere are similar in almost all cases.

Bullying takes a toll on the victim and his life. They become scared, distracted, and lose focus at work. It also becomes hard for them to communicate openly and interact with others in fear of being bullied again. They may also be driven into anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, resulting in the need for intensive therapy and professional help.

The work environment also suffers due to bullying. Watching a coworker get bullied out of their job can impact the morale of the others, and reduce efficiency. The workplace gains a tense atmosphere. One bully can also cause other bullies to arise, out of fear or other reasons. This is not good for any company, especially research.

The Verdict

The motive behind bullying maybe anything, or even nothing at all. But the act of bullying must be condemned. It is a stain and must be avoided at all costs.


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