“Real women aren’t engineers”
Jennifer Dibbern endured comments like this and much worse throughout her time as a PhD candidate in the University of Michigan Materials Science and Engineering program, according to a lawsuit currently pending against the University in federal court. Dibbern allegedly endured everything from sexist comments to stalking and threats of rape while fighting to complete her PhD program.
The lawsuit claims that the University and faculty failed to take any effective action despite years of reports to nearly every level of University administration. Dibbern was ultimately kicked out of the program in December 2011, after she took her own steps to address the hostile environment for women – including developing proposals for sexual harassment training and attempts to unionize graduate research assistants for a voice in their working conditions.
In a 27 page opinion this week, Federal Judge Sean Cox cleared the way for the lawsuit to proceed against the University and the individually named faculty. Attorney David Blanchard, lead counsel for Jennifer Dibbern, said in a statement “we are very pleased with the Court’s ruling. It will finally allow Ms. Dibbern’s voice to be heard after years of being silenced by ineffective administration and a broken system that allowed horrendous conduct to fester in the student body.”
Going forward, attorneys at the Nacht Law firm will begin the work of collecting documents and interviewing witnesses and University Officials in the case. “When you connect the dots, we are confident that the evidence at trial will shine a light on the University’s failure to live up to Title IX’s promise of an equal education for all, and will also demonstrate engineering faculty’s preference to retaliate against the messenger rather than addressing the problem in this sad case.” said Blanchard.
For more information, contact the lead attorney on the case, David Blanchard of Nacht Law at (734) 663-7550.