The Glass Ceiling (5)

photo of a woman thinking

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He had everything: a doting family, beautiful house, nice car and a successful scientific career, head of his own department, travelling the world speaking to conferences on his beloved subject.

When in the office he invariably worked late, sometimes on the work of heading up a department and sometimes on the experiments needed to finally finish his PhD. He was the perfect example to his minions that hard work paid off.

Conscientious as he was, or was it wanting to avoid a fraught home life, it wasn’t very often that he took his full allocation of holiday. Now he’d finished the practical aspects of his academic work and had been invited to a conference in Shanghai, he decided to add on some extra time and take the kids with him. That way the firm would cover much of the costs and he’d be able to give his two kids the holiday of a lifetime. He had no qualms about taking them out of school for a couple of weeks as it was going to be an education for them, seeing a different culture. Unfortunately the wife couldn’t get the time off work, as she was a special needs teacher.

Whilst he was away his deputy took the reins but not before he gave her chapter and verse on how the department should be run. This despite her already having her PhD, more experience at a previous company and better leadership skills.

A few days after his departure Annie was asked to review some data. It was an experiment that Greg had run as part of his PhD work but, as was common, also formed part of a live clinical trial. After going over the data a few times she felt the numbers didn’t look right. They looked great against the theoretical way the compound was supposed to work but when compared to other data, they just didn’t fit. The decision was made to run the experiment again and then a third time, at no small expense to the company.

The data from the two new experiments matched and Annie was right, Greg’s data was at odds with the other sets and when she looked at his experimental records her suspicions were aroused. More experiments were checked and it became apparent that data had been falsified.

By the time he returned, a thorough investigation had shown that every experiment in Greg’s PhD gave data that exactly matched the theory. All those late nights away from prying eyes, he hadn’t even bothered to run the experiments, the data was fake. He had signed them off as genuine experiments, even forging different second signatures required to verify data. He had compromised clinical trials, potentially costing the firm millions.

His unravelling was swift and he fell, shattering the glass ceiling on his way down. It shredded him as it splintered into a million shards, his marriage, the love of his kids, his house, his company Porsche, his pension, his employability and ultimately his life.

As it shattered it left a void for a competent, energetic and honest woman to fill.

Author: Liz

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