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I am working on a collaborative project between different parties, and there is a senior researcher who underestimates constantly what I ever propose or speak, and he tries to illustrate that I am doing nothing new.

Although I have proven for the second time that there is a limitation in the study, he doesn't listen. I have witnessed that he respects and appreciates Asian students more than me.

Of course this just my side of the story, but I know many people from his country do not like women wearing traditional clothes as I do.

I don't know how to solve this problem, but I am not the only case. Many others are being judged by him based on their complexion, appearance, and garments.

I am kind of frustrated, trying to be amicable. Of course, there are other members in the project who appreciate me, but this senior researcher has clout over them.

What I should do in that case?

EDIT

I know I cannot change some people opinion about people from specific religion or ethnicity, what I can do psychologically to override that, I am trying to do my best as much as I can, but still, I had the same behavior.

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    "there are many people being judged based on their complexion, appearance, and garments". By him, or in general? "I know many people from his country does not like female wearing traditional clothes as I have". What makes you think this is why he's acting differently with you? – David Apr 26 at 11:08
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    Do you have any evidence that would convince a third party, like an ombudsperson, a common superior of you and the senior researcher, or the human resources department that the senior researcher is discriminating based on your ethnicity? In particular, how did you witness "that he respects and appreciates Asian students more" than you? What does the (purported) discrimination consist in other than him underestimating you and disagreeing with you? – henning Apr 26 at 11:13
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    @Buffy thanks for the opportunity to clarify: I don't contest (or confirm) OP's interpretation, but possible answers differ depending on what exactly OP observed and whether OP has any hard evidence. – henning Apr 26 at 12:32
  • Also, in the comments, you seem to dismiss the possibility of going to an ombudsperson as there's no such person over the collaboration; but, what is the organizational structure of your collaboration? People will need to know the context this is happening in to provide advice. – Nat Apr 26 at 12:50
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    @Monkia But the problem is that your question is incredibly hard to answer as it stands. We can tell you that your problem is horrible, that it shouldn't be that way, that we hope that you make it anyways, that we support you, etc., but we can't really offer useful avice without knowing more about the specific situation. – sgf Apr 26 at 13:18
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In the comments you mentioned that getting an ombudsperson involved was not an option for you. However, your advisor does not necessarily need to know that you talked to the ombudsperson. Ombudspersons are often required to keep discussions confidential unless you explicitly tell them otherwise. You of course need to check that before with your ombudsperson before you go that route. Just discussing your options face to face with another person who has to treat that discussion confidentially is probably of enough value in and of itself. And maybe (s)he can do even more.

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The first step in solving this issue is going to be convincing a senior third party that there is a problem. This third party could be:

  • The head of department
  • Your supervisor (if you have one)
  • An ombudsperson
  • A faculty member of the same ethnicity as you

Tell them you have a personal issue and need their help and their confidence. Odds are, they will be willing to help you.

Be warned that evidence will be paramount in this kind of dispute. The odds are high that he'll deny he's discriminating, and he might even be able to provide some evidence for that (for example, perhaps he's supervised a student of the same ethnicity as you, possibly wears the same clothes as you, and that student had a positive experience). You will need convincing evidence of your own. As of time of writing, there's nothing convincing in the question statement.

If you don't have that evidence, start collecting it. For example something like this:

On 27 April 2019, I approached him with [solution] to [problem]. He laughed and said in the presence of other students that it's not surprising someone of [your ethnicity] would come up with something that will not work. I later proved him wrong by showing that the solution indeed works.

The more such incidents you can document, the more compelling your case will be.

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I am kind of frustrated, trying to be amicable. Of course, there are other members in the project who appreciate me, but this senior researcher has clout over them.

First, it's important that you maintain these good relations with the people who appreciate you. If you feel comfortable with it, you could try to discuss the issue with them: this way you would get a more neutral point of view, and if they confirm your feeling of being discriminated against you have a more solid reason to act on it. Assuming some of them are more experienced, they can also provide you with advice knowing the specifics of the situation.

what I ever propose or speak, and he tries to illustrate that I am doing nothing new.

Although I have proven for the second time that there is a limitation in the study, he doesn't listen. I have witnessed that he respects and appreciates Asian students more than me.

Second, I would suggest that you try to assess this potential bias as carefully and objectively as possible by being "extremely professional" yourself. This is not easy, but it's worth clarifying the nature of the bias, especially if you consider making a complaint but also simply for your own peace of mind. The idea is to be extremely rigorous in whatever you present to this person. For instance when you have an idea to propose, prepare a written report with the points you want to make: what is the main problem, why it matters, what is the solution that you propose, all of this preferably backed by references in the literature and showing the novelty (btw this can also help you write a paper or your PhD later). By doing this you take the discussion to a professional level, as opposed to the grey area of intuitions/opinions. This will make your arguments clear and precise, so that it's harder for the senior researcher to dismiss them without themselves making the effort of replying in detail. It also shows effort on your part, so it would make any bias in favor of other students' ideas much more obvious comparatively. Finally, there's even an (admittedly small) chance that your efforts would cause this person to realize their bias and change their behaviour in the future.

I hope this helps.

  • thank for this answer! actually, I am trying to be as professional as much as I can and don't commit mistakes, it takes me time to make a rigorous proof and that is my end goal. – Monika Apr 26 at 21:25

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