#MeTooSTEM founder leaves Vanderbilt

After unsuccessfully appealing her tenure denial, Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin has left the university

Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin, pictured with #MeToo creator Tarana Burke, received MIT Media Lab’s 2018 Disobedience Award

Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin, pictured with #MeToo creator Tarana Burke, received MIT Media Lab’s 2018 Disobedience Award

Sam Zern, Managing Editor

Following months of a public fight for tenure, Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin left Vanderbilt on July 8. 

The pharmacology and neurology professor, who rose to prominence for her role in founding the #MeTooSTEM nonprofit, alleged earlier this year that her tenure had been denied following in retaliation for her involvement in a Title IX investigation. A change.org petition circulated, and students demonstrated to ask the chancellor to grant tenure, which ultimately did not happen. 

While being denied tenure does not mean that a professor will lose their position, McLaughlin said in a statement that she left Vanderbilt by mutual agreement with the school.  

“I’m incredibly grateful for the outpouring of affection and support by Vanderbilt students and the scientific community,” McLaughlin told The Hustler. “I will miss the tremendous students that filled my heart with joy and our lab with great ideas. They give me hope and amazing memories.”

McLaughlin is an outspoken organizer in workplace harassment advocacy. She and her organization successfully lobbied the AAAS and the National Academy of Sciences to adopt policies to eject sexual harassers, and she has continued to push for anti-harassment policies at the National Institutes for Health. In May, however, seven #MeTooSTEM leaders left the organization, citing abrasive leadership from McLaughlin that they felt prioritized white leadership over input from people of color. 

“We thank Dr. McLaughlin for her work at Vanderbilt,” a representative for Vanderbilt University Medical Center said. “We share a strong commitment to the success of women in STEM, and we wish Dr. McLaughlin well in her future endeavors.”

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