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A High-Profile Demotion

Science reports that archaeologist Nicole Boivin has been demoted from her position as director of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, after an internal investigation uncovered evidence of workplace misconduct and bullying.

Launched in 2014, the institute was designed to take a multidisciplinary approach to studying human history by bringing together archaeogenetics, archaeology, and linguistics, Science reports. But last year the institute fractured with the archaeogenetics and linguistics departments moving on to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, leaving Boivin as the sole director at the Jena institute.

Boivin's recent removal from the position followed a "lengthy investigation into allegations of bullying and other misconduct, including taking credit for other researchers' ideas," Science reports, further noting that there are institute researchers who fully support the findings, as well as several employees who have voices support for Boivin. Now, in the wake of her removal, questions linger about whether the institute will continue as an entity, Science reports.

Boivin is not prepared to step down. Science noted that in an email to staff from her MPI-SHH account on Oct. 24, Boivin called her demotion "abrupt and shocking." Further, she told the scientific journal's news team in a statement: "I do not accept the decision … and am planning to challenge the action that has been taken."

Science also reported that the Max Planck Society has removed at least four directors after investigations into bullying — three women and one man — since 2018, and that the society has also contended with accusations of institutional misogyny. Less than a quarter of its directors are women.

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