A Columbia University alumnus has accused her former professor, the Indian-origin best-selling author, Sheena Iyengar, of gender-based discrimination.
According to the New York Post, Elizabeth Blackwell, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University in 2017, has accused Ms Iyengar, who is blind, of assigning her demeaning “female” jobs like applying her makeup and booking restaurants.
“These tasks included applying Iyengar’s makeup and booking restaurants for her romantic dates,” Ms Blackwell was quoted as saying.
Ms Blackwell, who filed a lawsuit against Ms Iyengar, alleged in her complaint that she was given “personal and supportive” tasks since they were “better suited” for the “female gender”.’ In comparison, Ms Blackwell’s male counterpart “encountered none of the obstacles that Ms Blackwell was forced to overcome.”
In her lawsuit, Ms Blackwell accused the professor of “disturbing gender-based discrimination behavior and retaliation”. She claimed that Ms Iyengar assigned research duties to a male coworker despite those tasks being unrelated to his job description.
Ms Iyengar is part of the faculty at Columbia Business School and is also the author of the best-selling book ‘The Art Of Choosing’. Ms Blackwell’s contract with the university was terminated in 2019. When she filed a complaint, Ms Iyengar responded by saying that it was she who was being “perpetually bullied”.
“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,” Ms Iyengar had said.
Ms Blackwell claimed that after getting her contract terminated, she found it difficult to land a job and that she had to deal with several mental health-related issues such as depression, anxiety and insomnia.
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