Sheena Iyengar, a professor, has been accused of demeaning “female” jobs, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit and a published report. The accusation came from Columbia University alum Elizabeth Blackwell, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2017.
After an intensive five-month interview process, Blackwell began working as a “research associate” for Iyengar, a Columbia Business School professor and author of “Art of Choosing.”
Iyengar, 52, “insisted” Blackwell perform duties that included “personal and supportive administrative and secretarial tasks,” the complaint says.
“These tasks included applying Iyengar’s makeup and booking restaurants for her romantic dates,” Blackwell said in an interview.
Who is Sheena Iyengar?
Sheena Iyengar was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As a child, she was diagnosed with a rare form of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease of retinal degeneration. By the age of nine, she could no longer read. By the age of sixteen, she was completely blind, although able to perceive light. She remains blind as an adult.
In 1992, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School and a B.A. in Psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences. She then earned her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Stanford University in 1997.
For her dissertation “Choice and its Discontents,” she received the Best Dissertation Award for 1998 from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology.
She is divorced from Garud Iyengar, another Columbia University professor. She lives in New York City and shares custody of their son, Ishaan.
In January 2019, Columbia terminated Blackwell, claiming her position had been eliminated, the complaint charges.