International Researchers – Suffering in Silence

This article on the Science Careers website discusses the difficulties faced by some international researchers in laboratories in the US, and suggests they may be treated differently by their supervisors and colleagues.

The US welcomes a large amount of international PhD students and Post Docs each year, and it would seem that many of them are feeling unsupported and face difficulties which their American peers don’t seem to encounter.

Some of the issues appear to be cultural, as Turkish Post Doc Tuba Sural-Fehr explains that some countries, including her own, have much more hierarchical way of life, meaning they don’t always feel as comfortable speaking out to their bosses as others. Perhaps more should be done to reach out to these students, as they may be suffering in silence. It’s possible organisations or the supervisors themselves could be unaware of how difficult some international students find it to voice a complaint, and if this is the case they should provide outlets for them to make an issue known without feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed.

The situation can become even more muddled by visa worries, with some researchers fearing their right to work in the country could be taken away. Visas should never be used against a researcher in order to control them, and the article suggests a few routes an international researcher can take if they feel they need to resolve an issue but are frightened of approaching their PI directly.

The article focuses mainly on researchers in the US, but these issues can be found all over the globe and the main point remains valid – international researchers need to feel they can speak out about any problem they have, and organisations and supervisors should provide the necessary support for their workers. If you’re an international researcher suffering in silence, you’re not alone, and there are people you can talk to who will resolve your issue.

Have any of you witnessed an international researcher being discriminated against, or not being supported properly within your institution? Are you an international researcher with a problem at work, but you don’t feel you can speak to your supervisor about it? Share your views!



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