Many of us had the opportunity, during her recent visit, to spend time with Dr. Frazier Benya, study director for the landmark National Academies report “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.” If you missed her excellent presentation, you can watch the video.
The report, which I shared with you last June when it was first published, offers some disturbing realities. For example, half of surveyed women in the sciences, on average, said they had experienced gender harassment in a two-year period. Dr. Benya highlighted for us that while institutions tend to address the most severe types of sexual harassment such as sexual coercion and assault, more pervasive types of gender harassment often go unreported, and these less recognized threats also damage careers and are destructive to organizational cultures. These include such behaviors as unwanted discussions about sex, relentless pressure for dates or sex, and offensive or insulting gender-based remarks.
To be clear, sexual and gender harassment is a problem across all the sciences, and some fields may have bigger problems than others. But it is wrong to assume that any discipline or organization is immune, so we must all become aware and remain vigilant. I urge you to learn more about how to recognize and prevent sexual and gender harassment, and to know your options for discussing and reporting it. In addition, UC’s Title IX Director has put in place improved systems and reporting processes, including expanded alternative dispute resolution options.
The National Academies report concludes that “Academic institutions should work to create a diverse, inclusive, and respectful environment where these values are aligned with and embedded into the systems, structures, policies, and procedures of the institution.” As part of our IDEA effort, we continue to listen and invite engaged conversations about all the ways we can foster inclusion, diversity, equity, and accountability at the Lab.
Our DEI and Title IX offices, our senior leadership, and our managers and supervisors all play a key role in building a positive culture that supports our scientific mission. But each of us shares the responsibility to contribute to a culture of civility, respect, belonging, and safety for everyone.