PHOTO CREDIT: ADOBE via STAT news
This week, a much-anticipated report was released by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington DC. This report is the most comprehensive study completed on sexual harassment in the sciences. It is the result of two years of research into the widespread prevalence of sexual harassment in university and college settings.
The result found sexual harassment in academia to be significantly more common among engineering and medical students than students in other fields. One survey reported nearly half of female medical students to have been harassed by faculty or staff.
“Most of that harassment is not the Harvey Weinstein harassment. It’s the everyday put-downs, and exclusions, and belittlings. It’s all of the ways of making women feel unwelcome.” ~ Kathryn Clancy, one of the committee members who produced the report, via STAT news
In order to avoid harassment, women reported skipping professional meetings, dropping out of research projects, and even leaving their jobs at times. Many women didn’t report their harassment out of fear of retaliation.
The report concluded that the existing policies to fight sexual harassment in academia are ineffective because they are set up to protect institutions, not victims. Some of its recommendations to prevent sexual harassment in the sciences include: reducing the power differential between students and faculty members through group-based advising, prohibiting confidentiality in settlement agreements so that harassers cannot switch jobs without their new employer knowing of their past behavior, and having institutions treat sexual harassment at least as seriously as research misconduct.