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FABBS Joins Scientific Community to Prevent and Address Sexual Harassment

March 15, 2019

In collaboration with sister societies in the broad scientific community, FABBS is committed to reducing sexual harassment in the workplace and professional environments.

FABBS joined 81 other inaugural members to form the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine)  “to advance professional and ethical conduct, climate, and culture across their respective fields”. The Societies Consortium will develop resources for society operations, such as awards and honors, as well as promoting a healthier and safer culture in the STEMM community and fields as a whole. As materials become available, FABBS will share with society members. FABBS society members also joined the consortium individually including, AERA, APA, SCiP, SPSSI and ST&D.

FABBS also endorsed H.R. 36, the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2019. This bill, introduced by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), would direct National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund research on sexual harassment, including examining interventions. The bill would also require the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop policy guidelines for federal science agencies to reduce the prevalence of sexual harassment.

As reported earlier in the year, FABBS also joined 72 scientific societies to submit comments to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX regulations. Title IX is the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding. In November, the Education Department issued draft changes to Title IX that would narrowly redefine sexual harassment and restrict the processes at U.S. schools and colleges for reporting and responding to charges of sexual harassment.

The issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and academia, especially in science, was explored in a report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, published late last year. The findings stress the need for changes in policy and culture, and also the need for further study. With the #MeToo movement making this issue more visible, the scientific community has banded together to use this momentum to fully combat sexual harassment in STEMM fields.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has already begun work with its Working Group of the Advisory Council to the Director (ACD) on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment. A statement from the Director says through they await interim recommendations from the ACD in June, that NIH will being to model accountability and transparency, and begin outreach to make sure sexual harassment allegations are brought to light. In September 2018, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a new measure, requiring awardee organizations to report findings and determinations of sexual harassment.

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