Leading science, education, and medical organizations announce new initiative: Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM

Leading science, education, and medical organizations announce new initiative: Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM

February 15, 2019 | By Jamie Lewis Keith, Partner

A recent 2018 consensus study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine titled, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (Academies Report), reported that sexual and gender harassment remain widespread and prevalent, and have negative outcomes for women, as well as others (albeit at lesser rates):

  • Greater than 50 percent of women faculty and 20-50 percent of women students encounter or experience sexually harassing conduct in academic science, engineering, and medicine (Academies Report 65) and women with multiple societal identities targeted for bias experience harassment at even greater rates (p. 44-46).

Recognizing sexual harassment as a barrier to excellence, the newly launched Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM is a collective act of leadership and accountability—53 societies strong and counting—to advance inclusion and success of all talent in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical (STEMM) fields. Collective efforts on this scale don’t happen often (the full press release can be read here).

By bringing together academic and professional societies of every size and representing many STEMM disciplines, the Societies Consortium is making an emphatic statement—backed by action: High standards of both scientific output and professional and ethical conduct, climate and culture are essential to including all talent and achieving excellence in STEMM education, research and practice. The Societies Consortium will demonstrate that sexual harassment has no place in STEMM, and that collaborative and thoughtful action can make STEMM fields welcoming for everyone.

This initiative is about collectively lifting all boats in STEMM toward a shared goal of ensuring high standards of conduct. While societies are holding themselves and their members accountable toward this goal, societies are focused on serving and facilitating the success of everyone in the STEMM community by investing in resources to support understanding and positive action to prevent sexual harassment; recognizing the community’s existing commitments to education and prevention; and seeking input from stakeholders to serve the fields well.

The Consortium will develop menus of flexible model policy options, practical tools, and policy and law guidance for use in STEMM fields broadly, and beyond—as well as in societies’ own operations. Examples include a range of policy options for awarding honors in STEMM fields (soon to be released) and other policies designed to encourage positive, professional, and ethical conduct; potential strategies for building bridges between societies and higher education to enhance the effectiveness of responses to incidents involving individuals affiliated with both; and guidance on how to comply with Title IX, without letting it unduly limit pursuit of policies with greater impact on creating welcoming learning, research and practice settings. These resources will be designed to be effective, and to have a highly operational focus, to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in all of its forms, along with racial and other intersecting bases of harassment. The consortium model can produce these resources in a time- and cost- efficient manner, with the benefit of multiple perspectives and national expertise.

The Consortium was originated by three sponsoring societies—the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and American Geophysical Union (AGU)—with EducationCounsel. These three sponsoring societies and the following seven additional societies are serving on the Consortium’s Executive Committee: the American Chemical Society (ACS), American Educational Research Association (AERA), American Physical Society (APS), American Psychological Association (APA), American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), Entomology Society of America (ESA), and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Additional STEMM societies are welcome to join the Consortium. Request more information from SocietiesConsortium@educationcounsel.com.

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