One of my postdocs came and told me a story about a friend of hers. The friend is a young PhD from China. She is working for a Chinese mentor in a very competitive and high pressure department. The mentor has insisted that the postdoc babysit for his three young children, as his stay at home wife is pregnant with number four, and having problems. When the postdoc questioned this, the mentor said, if you tell anyone I will fire you. I will send you back to China and you will never get another job. I begged my postdoc to give me the name of the mentor so I could do something. I said that if he is doing this to the friend, he is surely doing more than this to other trainees. My postdoc said no, that the friend doesn’t want anyone to know, and is just too scared and believes that if anything is said to the mentor, he will take it out on her. What’s sad is that this is probably right. But how the hell can stuff like this ever be stopped.
I think that this philosophy comes from the top down, and is either actively or tacitly approved in the Dean’s office. If all you count is the number of papers and the amount of grant money you will have atrocities like this. It’s just one of the things I hate about being in an Important Medical School.