1. Frazier Benya
  2. Senior Program Officer
  4. National Academies of Science, Eng, and Med
  1. Arielle Baker
  2. Associate Program Officer
  4. National Academies of Science, Eng, and Med
  1. Irene Ngun
  2. Associate Program Officer
  4. National Academy of Sciences

Sexual Harassment in the Scientific and Technical Workforce And its Effects o...

NSF Awards: 1644492

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Undergraduate, Graduate, Adult learners, Informal / multi-age

Over the last several years, revelations of sexual harassment experienced by women in workplace and in academic settings have raised urgent questions about the specific impact of this discriminatory behavior on women. This project from the National Academies explored the influence of sexual harassment in academia on the advancement of women in the scientific, technical, and medical workforce and found that system-wide changes to the culture and climate in higher education are needed to prevent and effectively respond to sexual harassment. There is no evidence that current policies—which often focus on symbolic compliance with the law—have significantly reduced sexual harassment. Colleges and universities should move beyond basic legal compliance to adopt holistic, evidence-based policies and practices to address and prevent all forms of sexual harassment and to promote a culture of civility and respect. These policies and practices include integrating diversity and inclusion into institutional procedures such as hiring and promotion; diffusing dependent trainee-mentor relationships through mentoring networks and independent funding; providing support for targets of sexual harassment; and improving transparency and accountability across the community. The cumulative result of sexual harassment in academic sciences, engineering, and medicine is significant damage to research integrity and a costly loss of talent in these fields. Institutions should thus consider sexual harassment equally important as research misconduct in terms of its effect on the integrity of research and use these recommendations as a roadmap to improve their educational ecosystems.

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