Note from BW of Brazil: Well, well, well, what have we here? As it turns out, having misleading information on one’s CV is not something unique to the embattled professor Joan D’Arc Felix de Sousa. A few weeks ago, I brought the news of a controversy surrounding Sousa whose CV showed that she had done post-grad studies at the prestigious American university, Harvard. As it turns out after some investigation, it was discovered that Sousa in fact never attended Harvard. After the revelation, people all over social media started blasting the professor and dragging her name through the mud. As there have been talks of developing a biopic on her incredible rise from poverty to university professor with several patents under her name as well as numerous awards, I thought it was unfortunate that this information turned out to be true.
As I wrote on a post covering the recent facts that came to light, Sousa’s accomplishments are inspiring even without having studied at Harvard. It’s almost as if the false information affirming a stint at Harvard would wipe out everything else she had achieved in the minds of the public. I felt the need to cover the story because, having covered her past achievements, it would seem as if I was trying to protect her or cover up something if I didn’t present this recent controversy.
I still believe Sousa deserves to have a film developed about her incredible journey as Brazil has a huge gap in presenting stories of overcoming odds by black Brazilians who are not entertainers of athletes. But in this particular situation, she made a mistake, something that all of us have done at one time or another.
Today’s piece I present for a few reasons. One, I wanted to defend my point that I didn’t see the media uncovering her false information as being racist. It is a journalist’s job to investigate such facts and as other information about Sousa seemed inconsistent, the journalist did some digging. I defend my opinion that it was racist what happened to Sousa because, in this case, it was her own mistake and claiming racism in this situation could potentially add fuel to fire of Brazilians who refuse to believe the role racism plays in the lives of black Brazilians every day.
But now there’s a second reason that supports my view.
As it turns out, what Sousa did is nothing new. Further investigations have shown that presenting false information about one’s educational background seems to be almost endemic among Brazilians. This includes some very noteworthy public figures. So as it turns out, if people are gonna slam Sousa for what she did, they need to take a number because she is clearly not the only one.
Witzel lied about postdoc at Harvard, newspaper says
Information is included in the Governor of Rio’s Lattes curriculum. According to the press office, he had the intention of studying at the institution
By Thayna Schuquel, Clara Cerioni and ECommerceNews
After the controversy with Professor Joan D’Arc Felix de Sousa, who included in her resume a post-doctorate at Harvard University that wasn’t true, it was recently discovered that the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel, made the same mistake. In his Lattes resume, the former federal judge lists a passage through the renowned institution. However, this never happened. The information is from the newspaper O Globo.
According to the report, Witzel would have taken a course known as a “sandwich” – when the student is part of the doctorate in an international teaching institution partner of the university in which he studies. However, according to the Federal University Fluminense (UFF), the governor never expressed interest in applying to win the scholarship.
Sought by O Globo, Witzel confirmed that he did not study at Harvard. The information, according to the press office, was on the Lattes platform because the governor had intended to study at the American university for a year while still a federal judge, but the goal never went forward.
Now one may look at the governor’s false information as just an isolated situation, but further research has revealed that the governor is not alone in using false information on his educational background.
Because of the scarcity of opportunities and increased competitiveness in the labor market, many professionals resort to improper practices such as inserting false data onto their resumes in order to gain prominence. A survey by DNA Outplacement (www.dnaoutplacement.com) points out that 75% of the CVs submitted to the HR departments of companies in 2018 in Brazil contained distorted information.
The survey, conducted over six months with 500 companies, reveals the main lies found in CVs. They refer to the value of the current salary – or received at the last job – (48%) and fluency in English (41%). Inactive time and the level of schooling and courses are other topics misrepresented in the curricula, by 12% and 10% of professionals, respectively.
The study identified that the practice is common both among those entering the labor market and those with a consolidated career and are in the process of being relocated. “The reasons are different, but it occurs between different professional levels. Young people usually do not put as much weight in shaping their resume as executives and managers cling to the urgency of getting a new opportunity to commit that irregularity,” explains Hugo Liguori, DNA Regional Director.
He further emphasizes that the loss of credibility and the “stained” name in the market are some of the damages if a head hunter or HR department discovers the false data in the document – which will further hinder the search for a new occupation and will be an irreversible career mark.
Tools against fake resumes
On the other side of the story, companies have incorporated day-to-day tools and strategies that help detect technical skills and soft skills during the recruitment process and avoid hiring liars. “An example is the assessment, a questionnaire widely used to identify candidates’ knowledge, skills and attitudes, and also helps them in self-knowledge, identifying strengths and weaknesses to develop throughout their professional lives,” says Liguori.
And it’s not just Brazilians who need a direction. DNA did the same survey in other South American countries and found that the frequency of untrue information in the CVs is 85% in Colombia, 78% in Peru and 72% in Chile.
This practice of bolstering one’s credentials with false information can also be found among prominent politicians, including the present administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, with imaginary Masters and PhDs, convenient omissions and self-plagiarism being among the inconsistencies revealed in the President’s staff.
Politicians and public figures, who should not be surprised to have their lives searched, also don’t hesitate to flourish their previous experiences.
The practice extends to political fields. A classic example is that of former president Dilma Rousseff, who put the titles of master and doctor in economics from Unicamp on her resume.
In fact, she had completed the credits but had none of the diplomas for not having defended her thesis. The revelation was brought to light by Revista Piauí in 2009.
It is common that at the beginning of government, new members are confronted about the veracity of the information on their resumes. In 2019, it was the turn of the ministers of President Bolsonaro.
In January, a report in the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo showed that the Minister for Women, Family and Human Rights, Damares Alves, was not “a master in education” and “in constitutional law and family law,” as she stated in her speeches.
At the time, she told the story that her title has to do with biblical teaching. “Unlike the secular master, who needs to go to a university to master, in Christian churches, everyone who is dedicated to biblical teaching is called a master.”
In February, it was the turn of the Intercept Brasil site to reveal that the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, is not a master of public law at Yale University, a title attributed to him for years in his articles.
The vehicle contacted the institution, which denied the existence of a record of frequency of the minister. After the report, Salles said in his Twitter that “the information of 2012 was mistranslated by a misunderstanding of the assistant.”
“The information of 2012 was mistranslated, by a misunderstanding of the assistant. Anyway, since then, it has always been corrected, exactly as Roda Viva interview program well reported in its note” – Ricardo Salles MMA (@rsallesmma) February 24, 2019
Before being dismissed from the Ministry of Education, Professor Ricardo Vélez Rodriguez made mistakes 22 times on his Lattes resume as pointed out on the site Nexo.
The inconsistencies are repeated countless times, such as “forgetting” to add co-authors of his texts, for example having cited himself as sole author the book Formação e Perspectivas da Social-democracia.
The title, however, was edited by the diplomat Carlos Henrique Cardim, a professor at the Instituto Rio Branco. The minister decided at the time not to comment on the revelations.
According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, the current minister of education also brings inconsistencies on his resume.
In relation to his production, two identical articles published in different journals were found that require unpublished material – a practice known in the academic world as self-plagiarism.