The role of supervisor is a key role. The relationship between the supervisor and the students should be healthy.

In this context, in India, there is a lot of difference between male and female students. If a male supervisor frequently holds meetings outside of the workplace, male students can participate without any fear while female students cannot.

How does a female student reject the invitations of a male supervisor to meet outside of the workplace (such as in the supervisor's home)? The purpose of the invitation is to discuss the developments or updates in research.

Many incidents like 1,2,3 etc., have occurred and hence female students have to think about their safety but at the same time they still have to work around the supervisor's workload. (He may not get time during his working hours to review his scholar's progress.)

2 Answers 2


While I know India is not the US (or any other country I am familiar with), but some norms should be universal and a student should not have to subject themselves to things outside the norm. Something like

Dr. Smith, it is nothing against you, but I do not think it sets a good precedent for us to meet under those conditions. Is there a time we can have the meeting at the university?

Now, Dr Smith may get very mad and take it out on you, but if they are the type of person to do that, do you want them as a supervisor, and more importantly, do you want to meet them alone at their home.

  • 1
    At their home? The question doesn't suggest she was asked to come to his home. Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 18:58
  • 22
    @AzorAhai The original question mentioned their home as an example of an outside place to meet; edits to clean up and streamline the question removed that particular parenthetical. Maybe it should be added back because I think that adds a bit of context. I can't speak for India but for the US I'd see a professor's home and a coffee shop to be completely separate levels of concern.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 19:00
  • 2
    @BryanKrause Oh, ok. Obviously that's entirely inappropriate. Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 19:01
  • 2
    But in many colleges, the student doesn't have a choice of selecting her supervisor. College assigns to the supervisor who has fewer scholars under him and research interests matching to the interests given by the student.
    – hanugm
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 4:49
  • +1. I wouldn't feel bad to just say "for personal reasons, I like to keep my meetings on campus and during daylight hours" to any colleague without having to explain myself further. Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 6:26

You can work with groups of students to have the university impose certain rules. You can then just use the rules as the "excuse".

You can, perhaps, attend such "gatherings" if you always go with a friend or relative. The friend may be bored, of course, but offers some "cover". In some cultures this is expected, actually.

You can fairly safely attend larger gatherings. Or gatherings in public places.

You can suggest another place to meet when invited. One that feels safe to you. It is probably fine to say that you would "be more comfortable" in the place you suggest.

If you need to work with someone you can't trust, do so electronically, using email and such.

But men aren't entirely safe from predators either, though it is normally a more common problem for women.

If you get "predator vibes" from a professor, work to find someone better and less selfish. Spread the word if you can do so safely. The grapevine can, of course, warn you of the bad actors.

If you do accept an invitation, be sure someone trusted knows where you will be and when you will return. Set a strict time limit on the duration of the meeting - say an hour.

But even if you get good vibes, be vigilant that the relationship doesn't change to one that is less professional.

  • Students imposing rules on professors has a super-long history... I heard in college that that's how "classes" (i.e. specific subject, specific lecturer, specific enrollment, specific time / place) were invented! Before that, students had no guarantee that by being at a certain place at a certain time they would learn what they were hoping to learn. I'll try to find the history of this... it was presented as somewhere in Europe, sometime between 1100 and 1600. Sorry. Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 16:55
  • Ah, here it is: books.google.com/… Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 16:57
  • It occurs to me that this is a matter not merely for the faculty and administration, but also for the associated student body to address. The associated student body has the authority (like a labor union) to make collective demands of the other parties in a university, under threat of collective action. Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 17:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .