By Roberta Attanasio, Forever Leaders Editor
In a recent tell-all letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology tackled the issue of sexual harassment of women in the academic scientific community. The committee defined the issue as a “pernicious problem,” and stated that “sexual harassment is not outside the norm for women in academia.”
The letter, dated January 18, 2018, asked about Title IX compliance programs, but with a twist: it focused on sexual harassment by federally-funded investigators. In addition, it inquired on how agencies share information about cases under review, and how decisions on the status of federal grants and on eligibility for new grants are made in cases of sexual harassment.
Committee chair Lamar Smith told BuzzFeed News: “No person should be subjected to harassment in the workplace. Our goal with the GAO report is to better understand the extent of the problem throughout the scientific community and ensure that recipients of federal research funding are worthy of the taxpayers’ trust.”
According to the results of a survey presented during a 2016 National Academy of Science workshop, only a small percentage (roughly 10 percent) of those victimized by sexual assault and sexual harassment in academia reported these violations. One of the reasons for non-reporting is the perception that institutions do not respond forcefully to complaints. An editorial in the journal Nature points out: “Although institutions proclaim that they have zero tolerance for abuse of the policies that they claim to enforce, too often their primary concern seems to be secrecy and reputation management.”
The tide may be changing, though. Lately, high-profile cases of sexual harassment in the scientific community have been garnering media attention—thanks to women that have started to speak up and name predators, and to journalists that have reported stories based on concrete evidence. The #MeToo campaign is now reinforcing the trend. Consequently, many academic institutions across the country have been forced to move from lukewarm responses to more aggressive actions against unacceptable conduct.
The first major case that became widely known is that of world-famous Berkeley astronomer Geoffrey Marcy. In October 2015, BuzzFeed News obtained and published the proceedings of an investigation that had not been made public before. Results from the investigation showed that Marcy violated campus sexual harassment policies between 2001 and 2010. According to the proceedings, four women alleged that Marcy repeatedly engaged in inappropriate physical behavior with students, including unwanted massages, kisses, and groping.
Following the uproar caused by the revelations, Marcy stepped down from his position. In December 2015, the University of California, Berkeley, released its report in response to public-records requests filed by Nature and other publications. However, at the end of the same month, Marcy obtained the title of “Professor Emeritus.” Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof told BuzzFeed News: “As per a standing Regents order, he can call himself an Emeritus. Having said that, he doesn’t have an office, and will not have an office. He’s not teaching, and never will in the future.” Berkeley was heavily criticized for not firing Marcy following the findings from the university’s investigation.
The Marcy news reports led to a domino effect—many other cases of sexual harassment occurring in the scientific community became suddenly newsworthy, and some are still undergoing intense scrutiny and debate.
In February 2016, Jason Lieb, a prominent molecular biologist at the University of Chicago, resigned following the results of a sexual misconduct allegation. According to the allegation, he made unwelcome sexual advances toward several female graduate students, and engaged in sexual activity with a student who was “incapacitated due to alcohol and therefore could not consent.”
In August 2017, CalTech announced that Christian Ott, following an internal investigation, would resign by the end of the same year. Ott, who was considered a rising star in the field of astrophysics, had harassed two female graduate students. However, on January 31, 2018, BuzzFeed News reported that he will start working as a senior researcher at the University of Turku in Finland on March 1.
Another widely publicized case is that of Michael Katze, who was fired in August 2017 by the University of
Washington. A year earlier, university investigations had found that Katze, a scientist at the forefront of Ebola and flu research, had sexually harassed women working in his lab, had asked employees to solicit a prostitute for him, and had misused public resources for personal gain.
One of the most recent cases involves David Marchant, a geologist at Boston University who, according to the university’s findings, sexually harassed a former graduate student when they were working at an isolated field camp in Antarctica. Marchant has been placed on administrative paid leave and is not allowed on campus. According to the latest available reports, he plans to appeal the university’s findings.
However, it is the University of Rochester and T. Florian Jaeger that are now at the center of the storm. Following the public outcry caused by the results of investigations on Jaeger’s conduct, Joel Seligman, the President of the University of Rochester, announced his resignation last month. He wrote in an email: “It is clear to me that the best interests of the University are best served with new leadership, and a fresh perspective to focus on healing our campus and moving us forward in a spirit of cooperation and unity.” Jaeger is a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, and has been accused of sexual harassment and retaliation. The case is nuanced and complicated, and involves an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed by a number of students and faculty members. On January 23, the University of Rochester’s Faculty Senate postponed a vote on whether to censure Jaeger over his “inappropriate” and “sexualized” behavior with female students.
All the cases mentioned above—considered to be only the tip of the iceberg— involve scientists who have received considerable federal funding for their research activities. In academia, victims of sexual harassment and assault usually channel their complaints through Title IX. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is designed to ensure that institutions that receive federal funding provide all students, regardless of sex, equal access to educational programs and activities. Federal agencies providing funding to academic institutions are responsible for enforcing Title IX compliance with respect to those institutions, including conducting periodic compliance reviews of their funding recipients.
In 2015, GAO released a report focusing on the discrimination component of Title IX, analyzing differential success rates among male and female STEM grant recipients for the six federal science agencies awarding the most funding to universities and colleges (National Institutes of Health [NIH], National Science Foundation [NSF], Department of Defense [DOD], U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA], Department of Energy [DOE] and National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA]). Among other findings, the report shows that two of the six agencies reviewed (NIH and DOD) were not conducting required Title IX compliance reviews.
In October 2016, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier of California told CNN: “If you’re going to use mice in your research, there are all these federal requirements that have to be complied with, and yet, when it comes to your teaching assistant there is no such requirement that you treat them in a humane way.” She added: “If someone is discriminating, if someone is a sexual predator, they should not have access to federal dollars. If the grant money dries up for that professor, he’s not going to be as successful at the university. He’s not going to be as sought-after.”
The 2018 House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology letter to GAO is a follow up to the bipartisan investigation opened a year earlier after the publication of articles in Science and The Washington Post on the Marchant/Boston University case. Marchant had received nearly $5.5 million in federal grants. Letters sent to NSF, NASA, and Boston University read in part: “Professor Marchant’s alleged actions, if true, are an example of behavior that is not acceptable in the academic scientific community or in any professional environment. The Committee has a responsibility to ensure that recipients of federal dollars are worthy of the taxpayer’s trust. Any behavior that stymies the advancement and support of women in science should not be tolerated and this Committee will seek all surrounding facts.”
Gender equality in academic institutions and in the sciences continues to be a hotly debated topic. Women scientists continue to face numerous challenges. Unconscious gender biases and gender discrimination still contribute to the leaky pipeline—while gender balance is gradually being achieved at undergraduate and graduate student levels in many scientific fields, women continue to be underrepresented at more senior levels and in leadership academic positions. It’s now becoming clear that sexual harassment is another major factor influencing gender equality in the sciences. As pointed out in the 2018 House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology letter to GAO, it’s possible that female science students withdraw from research to escape sexual harassment or to avoid retaliation caused by their refusal of sexual advances.
A New York Times’ reader was likely expressing the opinion (or fears) of many women when she wrote the following in response to an article on why women quit science: “As I enter the scientific field as a female college biology student, I should not have to worry about drawing professional boundaries between myself and colleagues. I should not have to worry about unwanted sexual advances by superiors. I should not have to worry about advancing my own career solely through my appearance and actions. But I do.”
This post is dedicated to the memory of Patricia Douglas, a #MeToo pioneer—a woman that, eight decades ago, refused to be silenced.
This post was first published in the IEAM blog on February 5, 2018.
I believe that the punishment for sexual harassment is not harsh enough, that’s why it’s still very common in today’s world. The #metoo movement had helped more women speak up due to the domino effect. Most cases in the article just resulted in the predator resigning their job, but it’s not very often that they serve greater punishment, like jail time, or even a permanent record on their name so that they’ll have a very hard time finding success after that. Larry Nassar, a doctor for team USA gymnastics team, had been molesting little girls since they were young, but because one brave girl decided to speak up, everyone that had been molested by Nassar is beginning to speak up one after another. These girls are leading by example to show that there should absolutely be no tolerance against sexual harassment in any form. Many choose not to speak up because they’re afraid it’ll ruin their path to success, but it shouldn’t be that way. That’s why I think there should be more women taking charge in taking on a bigger role in the workplace, eliminate the gender gap so that some of these men wouldn’t feel as powerful as they think they are. The predator will be hesitant to do anything when there’s another woman in power. As a woman, I feel like no matter what path we choose in life, we should never have to worry that we must belittle ourselves to achieve success. If men don’t have to do it, why do women have to? I hope the #metoo movement will start a revolution to stop these sexual harassment cases and impose a stricter law against it. Everyone should pay close attention to what’s going on, report anything that they see that isn’t right, and don’t be afraid to do so because I think the #metoo movement had brought national attention and that the whole world is standing by us.
Even though the #MeToo movement has Brough national attention in this nation, the problem still exists around the world. There was an individual that went around and interviewed men asking them whether sexual harassment/rape are acceptable. Some men said that it is, because after a girl turns 13 or 14 it is not rape but consent. There are men that say that two hands can’t clap without one. This just means, that a guy can’t do anything to a women unless the women gives permission. But as we know, that is not the case. It is not acceptable, yet these men are too ignorant to understand. However, the problem doesn’t only lie with men, it is also teachers. The girls at a school, were taught that sexual harrassment/rape only happen because it’s partly the girls fault. They are teaching girls to blame themselves, for something that they did not want. Girls are taught to live in fear and surprise themselves, because men will be men. The only way change can happen is if America makes this into a big thing. Most countries try to copy America, because they like to make those things into a trending their country.
It’s funny that I read this post because a few years ago my cousin went through a situation where Title IV and sexual harassment were both a problem. She’s studying to be a PA, but when she was an undergraduate student, she and her other colleagues received a grant to further their research. She was extremely excited at the opportunity, but then everything went wrong within one second. The professor that was in charge of the research lab always treated my cousin with respect and it didn’t seem as if he was trying anything with her. One day, she meets with him in his office to discuss research logistics and the grant. Within five minutes of that meeting, he made sexual advances towards her. She didn’t feel comfortable with that and immediately reported the incident to the department. Even though he was fired, the grant was pulled away from her lab due to the fact that the person who gave the grant was friends with the professor. She tried everything she could to fight against it and involved Title IX, but there was nothing she could do and received negative feedback from her colleagues. It’s unfortunate that women, especially in the science field, have to worry heavily about their appearance as a way to be successful in the field they want to pursue. No one, in general, should feel as if they have to put sexiness ahead of personality or professionalism, and the question still remains: what are we doing now to change this? If the world were a little different, then we wouldn’t have to worry about trying so hard to fit into what normal standards of a woman are.If only.
A large portion of the scientific career field involves recommendations and connections in order to advance in the field. For instance in an academic setting it is very difficult for a student or new graduate to gain access into a lab unless a professor accepts them as a lab assistant. This is a flawed system because it focuses too much on influence by people in power rather than looking at the merit of everyone. This could lead to many of the sexual harassment cases that go unreported because many women are afraid to harm their career opportunities. I believe there needs to be a reform in the way new scientists gain career opportunities in a lab, that looks at merit and doesn’t rely on personal recommendations. This will hopefully help minimize the amount of sexual harassment in the workplace, or at least gives women the peace of mind to report such cases.
Reputation means a great deal in our society. Sometimes it means even more than a woman’s life. Companies and organizations often seem more worried about how they’re perceived than if their employees are safe from sexual harassment. The #MeToo movement is powerful because it has strength in numbers. When you are one of few or even the only women at your job, though, speaking up can be difficult. Many women are labeled as liars, or even whores. It seems there is some unspoken truth between women that if we speak up, there is a strong possibility that nothing will be done to rectify the situation and bring justice. A woman reaps no benefits in this situation, just a much more difficult and uncomfortable workplace environment. So our society has made it the norm that if we speak up about our assault, only bad things will happen, and if justice were to come, it would be a long hard road. This is beyond unacceptable. We need to start holding people accountable for their actions. A slap on the wrist does not justify the trauma that can come from being violated in any way. Things are certainly getting better but with our current government, anything can happen. We need to keep standing together and fighting for this cause.
The statement in this article about the fear for women, for whatever reason, is why they choose to keep quiet about their incidents rings very true. I have thought about this myself and what it would take for me to stay silent, and it was surprisingly little. Not wanting to lose a valuable letter of recommendation, which this world values so highly, or the possibility of reading a situation incorrectly. The thought of bringing up an issue that I solely configured is a reason why I, and many other women, might choose to stay quiet. The movements like “Me Too” create confidence in dealing with these misfortunes. If someone sexually harassed one person, chances are they weren’t their first, so the era of zero tolerance for any kind of sexual harassment gives off a feeling of comradery that is very much needed in this world. I do agree with Arielle when she said they are not full-proof because of women in extremely oppressed situations or the small percentage of women who use this movement for their own malice. Even so, this movement that empowers women and lets it be known that women, or anyone who comes together for a greater cause, can gather real strength is one I can get behind.
I have not personally experience any form of sexual harassment but it does not mean I should not be aware of what is happening. Not only does the #MeToo movement allows woman to voice their story but it also provide insight to others who may not have experienced it and can learn how to avoid it. Growing up I always knew I wanted to be in the STEM fields not knowing what woman like myself go through in order to be recognized. I was really surprised that only 10 percent of woman sexually victimized speak out about the incident. This reminds me of the discussion we had in class, where this becomes a problem , do you speak out and risk your employment or do you be quiet and keep your job? As a woman this becomes problematic because you don’t want to speak up and end of losing your job or having a bad reputation. So , I understand why most women be quiet and not speak up. So many people are quit to judge others but until you are in their shoes no one should be judgemental. The #MeToo movement is becoming more popular and more and more people are becoming aware of the issue. As more people are inform of the gender inequality in STEM fields more solutions can be made to resolve the problem. I am glad to have read this article and learn more about the #MeToo movement because I feel like I can be more of an advocate for those who are victims. Before I was oblivious to the sexual harassment and didn’t really believe it happened in STEM fields . But I was wrong, and have a open mind on the issue at hand and want to help my sisters.
I support the #MeToo movement because it seems to provide a safe haven for women being abused and are afraid to make a change in the society by telling their story. Sexual harassment should not be underestimated especially as it is an ongoing issue that the society doesn’t consider it as much as they should. Many men take advantage of a women because they are not as “strong” or have many insecurities, but this movement provides a women to express her will power and tell their story. Many women are afraid to speak up because most people would try to comfort them saying “it’s okay” or “there’s not much you can do because it might ruin your reputation” these words are discouraging to women who are living with the disgrace of being harassed and feeling helpless. In the article, the percentage of professors that have resigned or have been fired due to sexual harassment is ridiculous. Issues like this is embarrassing to any university as it is supposed to be a “safe” setting for a student to learn and grow. Since, the DOD and NIH do not conduct Title IX compliance reviews proves that the issue is underestimated in society and can be easily altered by harassers to continue their act. I believe it is necessary for assaulters to be punished for their acts and should be written in their permanent record. It is necessary for women to speak up to their beliefs and tell their story because someone else might be facing the same struggle.
The #MeToo Movement is an ongoing movement that has come forward due to the mistreatment of women in every aspect of society. More women are following behind this movement because they are simply tired of being treated like second-class citizens. Areas where men dominate and females are less represented are settings that foreshadow how females are potentially being treated in the workforce. Women with STEM jobs are more likely to be mistreated due to a high, male dominance in the area. Women who experience sexual misconduct or harassment in the STEM workforce keep quiet and probably use social media for their voices to be heard. The #MeToo Movement has increased women awareness almost everywhere. I am excited for the voices of women to be heard in areas of STEM. Women should use the mistreatment, harassment, and poor judgment received by them and convert it into positivity by ending the unfair gender gap that is giving males the advantage of females in this male-dominated field.There has to be change and equality for women in STEM now.
I agree with you on the truth about women needing to end the unfair gender gap. However, I think that women cannot be the only ones trying to fix the issue. Women and men need to work together to find common ground. Men should stop objectifying women and not seeing them as an equal. Women should not fear potentially being harassed or sexually assaulted by someone who is supposed to teach them. Society needs to stop placing all the blame on the women. Women should be able to pursue any career they want, dress in whatever clothes they chose, and etc and not be scrutinized for it. The #MeToo movement is important and hopefully in the next coming years women no longer have to experience any harassment or assault.
While reading this article and follow up comments, I found myself surprised from reading so many case investigations that have occurred at so many universities. In the past, I was very unaware of the many cases involving sexual harassment at universities. Female students especially at colleges and universities should not have to worry about having to be put in an unwanted situation. Being put in a critical position at work, in school, in a research lab, and really anywhere is unacceptable. Women in science seeking opportunities in education and acquiring research experience should not have to be a regretful experience. No women should have to work or study in a hostile environment. Men who are not respectful of women and choose to take advantage should be held accountable no matter what type of status they might have. I know that some women might be reluctant to tell their story because of vulnerability and the worry of damaging reputations for opportunities in careers, but rather then keeping silent I agree that it is better to rise up and point the situation in the face. Although, it is easier said than done, it is relieving that these cases were and are being investigated. It shows that the world is evolving slowly and women are more confident about speaking out about the truth. It is a great example for younger generations. Federal grants should be awarded to people in science who are worthy of it and who would use it appropriately. As mentioned in the article, Title IX needs to be enforced to make sure that grants are being put to good use, keep all schools safe and free from sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and provide equal opportunities. Amongst all of the issues in the world come to women face, gender equality is still a continuous battle; however, if all women support each other regardless of race, beliefs, social status, and more, changes can be made.
The #Metoo movement took the world by a storm when it first started gaining movement earlier in 2017. Some us were devastated to find out that some of our favorite male actors, political and religious figures were capable of sexual harassment. To this day people are still in denial of some of the acts that were committed by these men. For those of us who believed the accusations of these brave women who risk their reputations and careers to speak out against their attackers, we had to rethink the relationships we had with our colleagues. There was stuff that I hadn’t considered sexual harassment at work that I started to rethink. One of my previous managers would occasionally ask me about what type of men I was into, and if I was dating someone. The questions made me uncomfortable, but I never consider them sexual harassment. I never brought it up to higher management because I was afraid I would end up losing my job. The fact that this type of behavior is something that I have to be concerned about in the scientific field is daunting to think about. I wish I could go into a field that had equality and I wouldn’t have to worry about if my clothes being too revealing or unwanted male attention. However, that is not the case and is up to the next generation to continue to pursue equality.
When deciding what you want to do with your degree in science or in general, no one should have to base their decision off of fear. No one should have to be restricted when deciding how far up the career ladder they would like to go. Everyone should feel as though their dedication and desire to learn should take them where they want to go career-wise. However, this is not the reality for women. Some women grow up aspiring to become a scientist and one-day doing research that could change the world. Instead, once they earn their undergraduate degree and go on to work in a research lab, they have to worry about potentially being harassed or assaulted by someone, usually a man, in a higher position than they are. Even though they can report their assault, they fear being looked down upon by colleagues. The #MeToo movement has been a good thing to happen to women. Now that women have a platform to openly speak out and tell their stories, more assaulters are coming to light and being prosecuted for their actions. Sexual harassment plays a role in the reason why women are underrepresented at the senior level in the science field and in leadership academic positions. There is a theory that women may leave their career before they can reach their full potential, due to fear of harassment. Men should encourage women instead of being the reason they are holding themselves back. There is still a plethora to be done, but with the #MeToo movement on the rise, hopefully, change is on the horizon.
I completely agree with your statement with career choices in response to being harassed in the workplace. I know for myself that I would not want to work anywhere where there has been cases of sexual harassment that have not been resolved or have been kept in the dark. It is obvious to me that the #MeToo Movement has made great waves in bringing awareness to sexual harassment across different industries. I am extremely grateful for the individuals who have come before me who refused to be quiet and spoke out about their experience with sexual harassment. The most profound case of sexual harassment to me was the University of California, Berkeley. I would not think twice about attending this university where they try to sweep their secrets under the mattress just to keep up with their reputation.
Sexual harassment affects feelings and thoughts which affect a person’s personality. These effects are permanent damage to a person and their personal life. The academia is doing a horrible job at enforcing Title IX. I believe it’s even worse that universities are allowing these professors who had assaulted students the option of retiring just because they have money and power. What should universities do to improve the harassment in the scientific community? I believe that harassment should be treated as a serious crime which should not be overlooked by money. Thus, if professors harass students, then these professors must be punished by getting their licenses and research grants revoked before firing them. Also, professor’s photos along with a description of his/ her misdeeds should be blasted all over the school’s social media, so that the Internet can condemn his/her actions.This will set an example for women to not be afraid of losing their job or be held accountable for speaking out. I don’t believe implanting this system will actually hurt the school’s reputation. Instead, the public will praise the school for their bold actions and allow their status to rise.
I believe its important to note that the #MeToo movement has done a phenomenal job at encouraging and supporting women to speak out against predators. However, I do think something to think about is how to maintain the movement’s momentum. Just like everything else on social media, it appears that the movement has lost large amounts of national attention despite the importance. Just because a famous individual has not mentioned the movement recently, does not mean that individual’s are not struggling with these issues on a regular basis. On another note, this movement has placed large amounts of pressures on companies and businesses to address predators as they should. They are no longer able to muffle the cries of their employees. Unfortunately, as we can read above, sometimes this isn’t enough and companies and corporations send these individuals on a “paid leave” or they “resign.” Women should not have to choose between career and safety. Women should not have to worry about unwanted sexual advances from their colleagues. As more and more women enter the STEM field, we can expect these issues to arise more frequently. Often times it seems that the discussions surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace is taboo. The men who hold their male counterparts accountable have been a contributor to the success of the movement as a whole but, there is definitely a lot more work to be done.
I completely agree with everything that you said. You mentioned a really good point that I didn’t even think about. Where are the women from the #MeToo movement now? What are they doing? Did they just go back to their normal lives being subjected to sexual harassment? Did they just shift their movement to more behind the scenes action? It’s very important that these movements that are started continue without needing a “big voice” behind it. These problems that women all over are facing are not just a trend, they happen everyday. So, in my opinion, it’s up to the movement to continue to remind the public of the sexual harassment issue. Our country and society today are social media crazed. Our own president utilizes social media platforms to express his personal feelings. That should tell you how deep our country is in the social media vortex. Knowing that, the #MeToo movement should constantly be active on social media alerting the world that the problem has not stopped. They should continuously publicize testimonials, pictures, or anything to bring the issue to light. I think that’d keep the fire burning for the movement.
I think the #MeToo movement is a great movement. I am also grateful that we have that movement now and that it’s very responsive towards these cases. You would think school is one of the safe place to be at and professors are highly respected or at least I thought so. Similar to those cases, I remembered back in high school, a teacher was fired for sexually harassing a student couple of times. I find it so disturbing that schools are supposed to be a place where you won’t have to worry about being sexually harassed or assaulted, rather a place you learn about how to prevent yourself in situations like those and yet there are professors who does these kinds of things in school. I do agree with the articles and the commenters about the fact that professors that targets women in STEM do so because they most likely feel like women are scared to reach for help. Or perhaps they think that because they are bringing in federal dollars to the university that nothing will happen to them. As stated in the article and many others that It’s been shown in many cases that professors get away with little to no punishment because of their input to the universities. So, I guess my question is how far would a university go to protect their students over their school reputation and/or their employee or vice versa? In my opinion, despite the Title IX and other rules and regulations, I still believe that money can buy people and so that being said, there’s no telling how far a university would go.
I agree with a lot of the statements you said. The same event happened at my high school and the teacher was immediately fired as well. Unfortunately, the article was accurate to say, “sexual harassment is not outside the norm”. Until now, I never know how common sexual harassment in school was; it is repulsive to think about. It is also frightening to realize that incidences like these are happening to students of all educational levels and as we advance in school, women are told to be cautious around professors to prevent this. School, that was once a place of learning, is not safe anymore. However, in attempt to answer your question, I think schools will only begin protecting students if there is more awareness of the wrongdoings these schools are doing in response to the harassment. I have realized that schools tend to stay quiet about issues like these in hopes to keep a good reputation. They try to act like nothing ever happened so they will not have to handle disciplinary actions for professors, which I think is wrong. This is where I believe the #MeToo movement is helpful. It raises awareness to the public about the inappropriate behaviors of teachers as well as these institutions’ poor management. Therefore, with a bad reputation on the line, schools are forced to listen to the stories of the victims and give more aggressive consequences to teachers.
I am actually apart of a Sexual Harassment seminar class, and we speak about the #MeToo movement all the time. This movement allows women, who are in the workforce, to comfortably speak out about any sexual harassment incidents. I never knew this existed until I took this seminar. When I was reading this discussion post, what took me by surprise was the phrase “often their primary concern seems to be secrecy and reputation management.” This is true because some companies have a big reputation that they want to stand by. A couple of years ago, I read a news article saying that a teacher, at a private school, was sexually harassing students. I was shocked at the fact that this was JUST announced and investigated. I think it was JUST announced because private schools have such a huge reputation about being a safe school. This might not be related to the #MeToo movement, but a lot of women in a big reputation workforce will not be heard because of their status or gender. I am also glad Title IX was mentioned because it’s important for students to understand that any institute you attend should give you equal access to any programs or activities. However, is the world aware that it’s perfectly fine to speak out when you feel discriminated or harassed? I think this question was asked in every session of my sexual harassment seminar, and my classmates’ answers were: “No, because people are scared to be bashed on or lose what they just gained.” If you were in the same position as the women mentioned in the article, would you immediately speak out or wait? As a STEM student, I just hope we don’t ignore this issue when we finally make it to medical school or a research company.
I agree with Vivian’s point where she said that most of her classmates in her class said that they would not speak out immediately in a sexual harassment situation because they are scared to lose everything that they have worked very hard for. Because of this unequal society that we live in women have to be much more careful of their actions even in a situation where it is not their fault. I honestly did not know what the #metoo movement was all about until we discussed it briefly in class. I think that this is a great platform to have to spread awareness but it ultimately does not solve the root of the issue.
Whenever I consider the root of critical issues in the world (war, poverty, class inequality, etc.) only one word comes to mind, money. A 2.61 by 6.14 inches piece of paper controls every aspect of our lives. Sexual misconduct in the scientific community is not immune to the adverse effects caused by money. Professors that receive many federal grants for their university are similar in reputation to the Kardashians. They are highly sought after and are rarely held accountable for their mis-grievances, such as the ones described in the post.
Due to the #MeToo movement; no longer can the wicked be shielded by their federal grants and prestige. In the post, Jackie Speier prompts “If someone is discriminating if someone is a sexual predator, they should not receive federal funding.” I agree with Ms.Speier, the lack of enforcement of the Title IX sends the message that unwanted sexual advances are permissible and that no repercussions will be allotted to those who violate students/ research assistants. If the grants given to recipients are rescinded, then universities will be quick to sever ties. I believe that this will make people think twice before committing such acts. An attitude of complete intolerance should be taken towards these situations. They not only undermine female progress in the sciences, but are detrimental to the scientific community at large. Amongst the many challenges women face in the workforce, inappropriate solicitations from your highly-decorated boss should not be one.
I’m all here for the #MeToo movement. I think that it’s a great safe space for females who want to speak out about sexual assault or harassment, but it’s not 100 % full-proof. We had this conversation in class, and I understand why so many women do not speak out. Sometimes, these opportunities that the females have are great, career-boosting opportunities. So, if they speak out, they face losing their big shot at gaining successful experience. Sometimes they could view what they go through as “part of the process” of pursuing their career, and that’s so messed up. The fact that the NIH and DOD don’t conduct Title IX compliance reviews just shows that there is clearly space in the cracks. If no one is checking on you to ensure that you are following guidelines and treating everyone fairly, of course you’ll find loopholes for your own self-gratification. I have no idea how to fix the sexual assault/ harassment issues towards women in the STEM fields. I do feel that the #MeToo movements launching up should have a program where they relocate females for jobs or help them find new opportunities. I feel that there’d be more confessions if the threat of losing their job wasn’t there. To play devil’s advocate though, females must hold each other accountable as well. Although you may dislike a male superior, you should never accuse him of sexual misconduct if he never did it. Lies like that take legitimacy away from the #MeToo movement.
I also support the #MeToo movement and am grateful for a lot of women speaking out now.I also do understand why women may be afraid to speak out, however, I do not think any reason is an excuse to not tell others about it. People that think that going through sexual harassment is a part of life or something women have to endure, is not acceptable as you mentioned. What I have noticed from my own experience by talking to other men, is that it is usually the bystander male that will say “oh that’s just how men are”, “it’s life”, or even “suck it up, because you need that position/job.” In a male dominated field, especially at which they are in senior positions, women are not finding support to speak up because of men like them. No wonder NIH and DOD would not follow any behavior leading to equality. I think the way to fix the sexual harassment issue is not to relocate women, it is to remove assaulters from their job and make a law of some sort or allegation towards them that they have to carry on for the rest of their life. Some places will just fire them and not doing anything about it, but there should be a requirement that steps should be taken even before proof is presented. This may harm the reputation on men, but not doing this has also let many men escape through the loopholes. Women are not at fault that they are treated this way. It is the other person’s fault, because their intentions were not right. Therefore, by relocating women, it’s as if the women is being punished. The assaulter will still be at his job and continue what he is doing, while the women has to again suffer. Moreover, education in school and home should emphasize equality and respect for women. I have heard of many stories of men, who are loyal and protective of women, because they were taught that in an early age. Teaching men to see their sister or daughter in another girl being harmed is a good method to prevent sexual harassment. Nevertheless, much progress is needed and sexual harassment will still continue with all these changes, because not everyone abides by the rules.
I definitely agree with your post! Women should never lie on male counterpart in spite of envy or revenge, this causes the #MeToo movement be less effective. As we mention in class, women should in the beginning try to remove themselves from the situation or check the male in the beginning so he is aware of his misconduct. I do like your idea of having a program to allow victims to find new jobs and opportunities. As well as I feel we need more programs to allow women vent to other women. Also, have programs that provide seminars to young adults and girls so those that are not aware can be informed and prepared. Also, we need more woman who are victims to continue to speak up so others that have not yet encountered such traumatic event can be prepared and not scared to continue to pursue a career in the STEM fields.