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A St. Petersburg university student is told that her stand against sexism was just ‘self-promotion’


An ethics commission at St. Petersburg State University has concluded that a March 8 protest by a postgraduate student against alleged sexism from the school’s international relations faculty was “an attempt at self-affirmation and self-promotion.” The commission faulted Yulia Zhigaleva, who organized the protest, for making a public spectacle of the professors without ever raising the issue with them privately or with the university’s administration formally.

What was this demonstration? On March 8, Zhigaleva and a handful of other students put up posters all over the international relations department with quotes allegedly from the faculty about women, captioned “If you hear something, speak up,” and bearing the hashtag: #sexism_at_the_IR_Dept. The posters featured remarks like “Women don’t belong in politics”; “The brain of a female postgrad obsessed with getting a husband is incapable of grasping post-positivism”; “This monograph on war was written by a woman, just imagine. Amazingly, it's not bad.”

Faculty told the ethics commission that they either didn’t remember making the statements attributed to them in the posters, or they accused Zhigaleva of sharing the comments out of context, in order to make them seem sexist when they weren’t. The ethics commission determined that Zhigaleva and the other students who put up the posters violated the university’s code of ethics and called on instructors and students to refrain from public comments about their colleagues that might be misunderstood or lead to conflicts.