Sexual harassment

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(At the Tavern, by Johann Michael Neder, 1833, Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg)[1] "...racism may well provide the clarity to see that sexual harassment is neither a flattering gesture nor a misguided social overture but an act of intentional discrimination that is insulting, threatening, and debilitating." ~ Kimberlé Crenshaw
Too often the story is the same: A man sexually harasses a woman, the woman reports it, and she gets told that’s just how it is. ~ Kathryn B. H. Clancy

sexual harassment is bullying or coercion of a sexual nature and the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. Sexual harassment includes a range of actions from mild transgressions to sexual abuse or sexual assault.

Quotes[edit]

  • I have watched the #metoo campaign as avidly as anyone. I have gone to bed each night wondering who will be outed as a sexual harasser in the morning, whether it will be another one of my political heroes or someone we all recognize from mainstream media or Hollywood. We’ve seen many of these perpetrators lose jobs, be forced to resign, and face economic difficulty because of their abhorrent behaviors.
    But I have not gone to bed a single night in all these months wondering what scientist would be sacked in the morning because of his transgressions—let alone be publicly outed—because scientist-harassers rarely lose their jobs.
  • Too often the story is the same: A man sexually harasses a woman, the woman reports it, and she gets told that’s just how it is.
  • Are people who engage in sexual misconduct actually making scientific advances that would not be made without them? I’d say it’s more likely that swifter, greater advances would have occurred if there were fewer perpetrators limiting opportunities for their victims. When part of your brain has to be occupied with workplace stress—from unwanted sexual advances to witnessing abuse between colleagues—you have less to give to your science.
    If we punish these perpetrators, especially by taking away their funding, won’t their trainees suffer? I wonder how many grad students would be better off, relieved of the pressures of working for a predator. As federal funding agencies grapple with this problem, they have begun to figure out solutions, such as assigning a new principal investigator if the original one can’t continue. It doesn’t kill the project or leave students and staff out of their jobs. Removing the perpetrator from a project also saves the pedigree of the trainees; few want their published work tainted with the name of a known sexual harasser.
    The last concern is the trickiest: Why don’t we do anything when we know about the perpetrators in our midst? So far, consequences for scientist-harassers are few and far between. In academia it’s common to get sanctions like “no more female grad students” or “no more undergraduate teaching” or “please work at home for now.” These are mild punishments at best, but departments are unsure what other options they have—and universities don’t make it easy to fire professors. The institutions know that perpetrators generally have more resources than victims and are more likely to sue if they are fired. It is a good financial decision, then, to do nothing about a perpetrator, even if they are guilty.
    So this is where we find ourselves today: In many professions sexual misconduct is now cause for dismissal. In the sciences, not so much. What’s more, many science workplaces use legal definitions of sexual harassment to set the standard for workplace conduct. If that is the bar that has to be met for a disgusting behavior to be considered actionable by a university, research institute, or field station, it is a high one. An enormous range of disrespectful and even frightening behavior can slip under that bar, even though it damages the careers of victims and bystanders, holding back scientific advancement.
  • [R]acism may well provide the clarity to see that sexual harassment is neither a flattering gesture nor a misguided social overture but an act of intentional discrimination that is insulting, threatening, and debilitating.”
    • Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Whose Story is it Anyway?: Feminist and Antiracist Appropriations of Anita Hill, supra note 107, at 402, 412.

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External links[edit]

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