Sciences Sexual Harassment Remains Common

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine states that regardless of laws to fight gender discrimination in academic settings, the prevalence of sciences sexual harassment remains unchanged.

Types of Sexual Harassment

Federal law prohibits sexual harassment through Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This applies to employers that have 15 or more employees. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination that explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

It is important that when unwelcome conduct crosses the line and becomes severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment to seek the advice from a qualified employment lawyer experienced in sexual harassment cases for advice and help.

Prevalence of Sciences Sexual Harassment

The National Academies detailed the sciences sexual harassment in a 311-page report. The types of sexual harassment varied. Since the nature of many science careers is to be hidden away in laboratories, patient rooms or field sites, there is an element of isolation. Adding to it is the element of quid pro quo sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment typically involves someone in a supervisor-type role. He or she asks or hints at sexual favors in exchange for any type of employment benefit. Usually, in return for some type of sexual favor, the victim would receive more opportunities in his or her career. Fears of retaliation, stalled career advancement or being labeled a troublemaker often keep harassers’ targets and bystanders silent. Also, the study found that institutional policies usually react to individual incidents and focus mainly on legal liability instead of promoting equality in the workplace.

Besides quid pro quo, people engaged in gender harassment. This is the objectification, exclusion or hostility based on a gender. Other studies and reports support this theory as well. The University of Texas system found around 20% of female science students, more than a quarter of female engineering students and more than 40% of female medical students reported experiencing sexual harassment by faculty or staff.

Preventing Harassment

The report suggests that clear prohibitions against unacceptable behaviors have a lower rate of sexual harassment. These policies need clearly defined actions that correspond to the severity and frequency of the harassment. In particular, cooperation needs to become a formal part of academic evaluation and reward structures. The report says that this will help diminish sciences sexual harassment in the realm of tenure and promotion in academe.

Get Help After Sexual Harassment

However, if you have experienced sexual harassment in any form in your field, you should contact a qualified employment attorney as soon as possible. If the harassment has not stopped after making a formal complaint, consulting a harassment lawyer is your best option. Your attorney will be able to provide further guidance. This could include helping you file a claim with the EEOC. Plus, an attorney will aid in building a case that will put an end to what you have experienced.

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