Take Action Tuesday

Participate in the June 12th Sexual Harassment Day of Action


Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the public release of the National Academies’ report, “Sexual Harassment of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.” The report is essential reading for anyone in academia that summarizes the findings of decades of research revealing (for some) that sexual harassment is rampant within academic institutions and the structure of these institutions only perpetuates the problem.

The report also provides comprehensive solutions to fix the system, including recommendations for federal policy makers. Since federal agencies control the majority of science funding, changes in policies and laws through this mechanism will be necessary to create meaningful change. Based on the findings of this report, federal law makers are already stepping up. At the beginning of this year, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Science and Technology Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced HR 36, the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2019. Among many things, this bill is a positive step forward by directing the National Science and Technology Council to create an interagency working group that would systemically coordinate efforts to address sexual harassment by all of the federal science agencies. In April 2019, the Senate followed up when Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the companion legislation, S.1067. The American Institute of Physics has provided an overview of the purpose and main provisions of the bills.

Removing sexual harassment and discrimination from our scientific culture is going to require persistent and coordinated efforts for meaningful change to actually happen. Supporting system-wide policies like the aforementioned legislation, and working to support survivors and improve institutions on a local level are critical to spurring change.

There are several ways to get involved

  1. Read the report: here’s the full version and highlights. Also check out the 500 Women Scientists overview released last year.

  2. Join us tomorrow, June 12th for a Day of Action by contacting your congressional legislators to support HR36 or S. 1067. Here’s a call script to guide you through the call, plus sample tweets you can use. To write or call your representative or to figure out who your reps are, visit this website.

  3. Demand more from institutions. Learn what your professional society is doing to keep conference attendees safe. Familiarize yourself with the sexual misconduct policies at your institution. See organizations like the American Geophysical Union for examples and check if your favorite society is a member of the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM.

  4. More steps you can take to end harassment in science NOW.

Finally, be there for each other. If you’ve experienced harassment, assault, or misconduct, you are not alone. Such behaviors are not acceptable, and it’s important to listen to and elevate the voices of survivors.

Today’s post was written by Kate McCulloch (San Diego Pod), Sarah Smaga (New Haven Pod) & Christa Trexler (San Diego Pod).