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Report highlights that half of women in science face harassment

Published on 14/06/18 at 08:30am

Arriving at a particularly low point for the reputation of the biotech, after STAT revealed that a party at BIO International Convention had employed topless dancers adorned with the logos of sponsors, there has emerged a report detailing the pervasive abuse women in science face.

Broken down into bare statistics, the report found that 20% of female science students, 25% of female engineering students and 40% of female medical students had experience some form of harassment.

More worryingly, across all fields of academia, 58% of women faculty and staff had experienced harassment. In addition, the report interviewed 40 women within the sciences and found that more than half had experienced physical abuse.

The number of women who reported abuse was second only to the military and the report identified that there was a similar structure in place; academia is a male-dominated environment, the structure is hierarchical and there are certain dependencies between senior and junior figures within the hierarchy, such as in regards to funding.

The report, produced by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, has been in the making for the last two years. With the on-going Me Too movement, more attention has been brought to the varied forms of abuse that women face in the workplace and across wider society.

The report states that: “Over the last several years, revelations of the sexual harassment experienced by women in the workplace and in academic settings have raised urgent questions about the specific impact of this discriminatory behaviour on women and the extent to which it is limiting their careers.”

It goes onto conclude that “There is no evidence to suggest that current policies, procedures, and approaches have resulted in a significant reduction in sexual harassment”.

In order to rectify this situation, the report suggests that greater transparency should be aimed for during investigations into inappropriate behaviour, as well providing better support for the targets of sexual harassment.

Ben Hargreaves

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