The National Academies Urge Academia to Take a Stand Against Sexual Harassment

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has issued a new report calling on academic institutions to go beyond legal compliance and actively promote a change in culture to address issues of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct.

The report, which examines sexual harassment of women in academic sciences, engineering, and medicine, notes that 58 percent of women faculty and staff in academia (all disciplines, not limited to science, engineering, and medicine) have experienced sexual harassment. The report concludes that the cumulative result of sexual harassment is significant damage to research integrity and a costly loss of talent in these academic fields. The report notes that “there is no evidence that current policies, procedures, and approaches – which often focus on symbolic compliance with the law and on avoiding liability – have resulted in a significant reduction in sexual harassment.”

“A change to the culture and climate in our nation’s colleges and universities can stop the pattern of harassing behavior from impacting the next generation of women entering science, engineering, and medicine,” said Paula Johnson, co-chair of the committee that conducted the study and wrote the report, and president of Wellesley College.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree, a medical degree, and a master of public health degree, all from Harvard University. She was appointed the fourteenth president of Wellesley College in 2016. Earlier, Dr. Johnson was a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.

The full report, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture and Consequence in Academic Science, Engineering, and Medicine, may be purchased here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySexual Assault/Harassment


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