Washington DC: A Columbia University alumnus has accused her Indian-American Professor of assigning her demeaning “female” tasks like applying the female Prof. makeup & making restaurant reservations in a law suit alleging gender-biased discrimination.
Elizabeth Blackwell worked as a “ research associate” for Sheena Iyengar, a Columbia Business School Professor, following a five month interview process after earning her bachelor’s in psychology in 2017. Soon after, Iyengar, 52 , who is blind ,”insisted” Blackwell perform ”personal & supportive administrative & secretarial tasks“ including, Blackwell says, “applying Iyengar’ s makeup & booking restaurants for her romantic dates.” Her male counterpart “Encountered none of the obstacles Ms. Blackwell was forced to overcome” the suit alleges.
The Columbia University Professor was diagnosed with a rare form of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease of retinal degeneration when she was a child. Having lost her father to a heart attack when she was 13, she became completely blind by the time she was16. Her sister nine years younger to her is also blind.
Apparently, the two principals in the dispute made poor choices. According to the Washington Square News ( WSN) account, Iyengar reportedly told Blackwell that she was “lucky” to have been hired since she was a woman, when Blackwell confronted her about the lack of research tasks. Iyengar allegedly complained to Columbia shortly after that Blackwell was harassing her, according to WSN. According to discussions that were taped and acquired by WSN, Iyengar said that she had supported Blackwell “at every stage” and that there was “no fit” between their interests but that she would still write a letter of recommendation for her. “If there was discrimination in this office, it was, it is, the discrimination that I felt as a blind professor who was being perpetually bullied by my employee and does not accommodate the very needs of this position, ” WSN quoted Iyengar saying.