Sexual harassment isn’t just about sex: Groundbreaking report details persistent hostility female scientists face | Science

Summary

  1. Ask someone for an example of sexual harassment and they might cite a professor’s insistent requests to a grad student for sex.
  2. “The vast majority of sexual harassment that occurs is sexist hostility and crude behavior. And the literature supports that these everyday experiences may have as bad or worse personal and professional consequences as things like unwanted sexual advances.”
  3. Decades of failure to curb sexual harassment, despite civil rights laws that make it illegal, underscore the need for a change in culture, the report says.
  4. “The legal system alone is really just not adequate for addressing the issues.” The authors suggest universities take measures to clearly report the number of harassment complaints they receive and investigations they conduct, use committee-based advising to prevent students from being in the power of a single harasser, and institute alternative, less formal ways for targets to report complaints if they don’t wish to start an official investigation.
  5. The report, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, noted that many surveys fail to rigorously evaluate sexual harassment.
  6. The incidence of female students experiencing unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion was lower, ranging in both Texas and Pennsylvania between 2% and 5% for the former and about 1% for the latter.
  7. It also highlights the ineffectiveness of ubiquitous, online sexual harassment training and notes what is likely massive underreporting of sexual harassment by women who justifiably fear retaliation.
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