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Indian-American professor sues business school for gender, racial bias

New York, March 9 (IANS) An Indian-origin professor at Babson College has filed a lawsuit against the business school in Wellesley, Massachusetts, for allegedly subjecting her to gender and racial discrimination.

Lakshmi Balachandra, an associate professor of entrepreneurship, said despite her research record, expressed interest, and service to the college, she was denied numerous leadership positions and opportunities for more time to conduct research and write, The Boston Globe reported.

“Babson favours white and male faculty and predominantly reserves awards and privileges for them,” says the complaint filed in the US District Court in Boston.

As a consequence, Balachandra said that she lost career opportunities and faced economic losses, emotional distress, and harm to her reputation because of mistreatment and administrators’ failure to investigate her concerns.

Balachandra, who joined Babson’s faculty in 2012, called professor and former chair of the college’s entrepreneurship division Andrew Corbett as one of the “primary direct perpetrators of the discriminatory work environment”.

In her lawsuit, she alleged that Corbett often lost his temper with her and other women staff.

The suit mentioned that he only allowed her to teach required courses in entrepreneurship despite her requests to teach electives, which she had taught previously at MIT Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School.

While Corbett could not be reached for comment, a Babson spokesperson told The Boston Globe that it “takes concerns or complaints seriously and has well-established protocols and resources in place to thoroughly investigate and address them”.

“We look forward to addressing this through the legal process.”

The lawsuit mentions that Corbett said in an annual review that Balachandra’s teaching was “disorganised” and that she was “not a great teacher”, after consulting student evaluations.

Such reviews, according to Balachandra, are widely known to be biased and problematic.

The professor said that when she tried to discuss the reviews with Corbett, he “became hostile and began yelling, stating that Balachandra had no right to question his judgment”, The Boston Globe reported citing the lawsuit.

Balachandra has also filed a charge of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, according to her attorney Monica Shah.

She is currently on leave for a fellowship at the National Science Foundation, and is seeking unspecified damages.

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