12 June 2018

Tackling Harassment in the Sciences

Posted by Chris McEntee

Since AGU adopted its revised ethics policy in September 2017, and even prior to that time, we have seen a movement toward creating a safe, inclusive environment for science. As AGU President Eric Davidson, President-elect Robin Bell and Past President Margaret Leinen wrote, “We’ve seen and heard of too many instances, stories, and studies that show harassment in the sciences is happening and that the problem is significant.” We heard from AGU members that they wanted changes, and we acted accordingly. But, we know AGU cannot change the culture alone. It’s important to have collaborative efforts from other science societies.

Under our revised policy, AGU sees harassment, bullying and discrimination as scientific misconduct and we are pleased to see today’s National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report make the recommendation that “academic institutions should consider sexual harassment equally important as research misconduct in terms of its effect on the integrity of research.” Billy Williams, Vice President of Ethics, Diversity,  and Inclusion at AGU, has been involved in many efforts to create a more inclusive environment within the scientific community, and he participated as a committee member on the report. We encourage other societies, academic institutions and departments, and others within the scientific community to put in place strong policies. We also want to see additional steps that reward the creation of positive environments and strong training beyond legal compliance. We need a culture change that will fundamentally change behaviors in science.

Science societies like AGU are well placed to provide education and resources to scientists and institutions, as well as implement strong policies against harassment and other workplace climate issues that can set an example for others. That’s why we’re pleased to share a new online resource center from ADVANCEGeo. ADVANCEGeo, a partnership with the Earth Science Women’s Network, Association for Women Geoscientists, and AGU, is funded by an NSF grant.

I encourage you to take a stand as an individual, to contribute to a positive culture by visiting the resource center to access training information, resources, and data on harassment in science and workplace climate. You can visit AGU’s ethics website for more information on our policy and AGU-specific updates.