The National Academies released a long awaited report today detailing the widespread sexual harassment experienced by half of women in STEM. The numbers are staggering, and the National Academy’s own lackluster response to cleaning up their house of harassers is infuriating and tone deaf. It’s easy to be discouraged. Being discouraged is not acceptable. I am the Fighty Squirrel, and I refuse to let you be discouraged.

I made a list of things you need to do right now to show you are committed to turning the tide, isolating harassers and changing this wacked system.

    1. HOLD THE DATE: Plan a group webcast on Tuesday June 26th for the discussion of the report Sexual Harassment in Academic STEM. A group of experts will be talking about next steps and you will have had a chance to read the report and press coverage. The scientific community needs to know how to change this culture and no one else in your building is going to do it. Trainees will think you’re a hero. So will Fighty Squirrels. Book a conference room, put up some flyers and invite your community to livestream the event. It’s a great opportunity to meet allies, talk about your institutional needs and get some much needed support. Join the online discussion by using #MeTooSTEM and #ScienceToo hashtags on Twitter.
    2. READ THE STORIES: The Academies report is a tough read and you do need to read it. If you don’t, then you are giving up, and I already said that wasn’t okay. This is not some administrators problem to deal with. It’s yours. And if you need convincing, and frankly, even if you don’t, visit the MeTooSTEM website my BFF Julie Libarkin and I set up to share the stories of women in STEM who were victims of sexual harassment, assault and retaliation. You owe it to these women to know what our system is doing to them.
    3. MEET WITH YOUR TRAINEES AND COLLEAGUES: Tell your chairperson you want to get on your faculty meeting agenda to talk about the report. Then talk about it at the next grad student group meeting too. And the post doc association meeting. Talk about it at all the meetings. No one gets to claim they didn’t know this report made specific recommendations and shared crushing data. Your goal in should be to introduce folks to the report and make it easy for them to read it and the recommendations. For the love of the sweet baby Jabus, Fighty Squirrel’s First Rule of Not Going Crazy in Academia is never, ever form a committee. Once you’ve told everyone and their father (mothers already know) about the report, ask your chair to buy lunch (the department is loaded, and if they aren’t, the chair still make a lot more than you do) and hold a couple open forums listening to people’s thoughts, their experiences and your community needs. You have to be the police and make sure no man or woman dismiss anyone’s experience. This is important. Hiding and top sekret harassment gossip is not oh freaking kay anymore. At the meeting, you may use this gif as needed. Because Nicki is not playing and you shouldn’t be either. Once there have been two or three of these forums, figure out what is are actionable steps and the people who are positioned and motivated to help.

4. INVITE A WOMAN WHO HAS EXPERIENCED HARASSMENT TO SPEAK AT YOUR DEPARTMENT SEMINAR SERIES. Wait….like an actual scientist who has been harassed? Yes. The abuse of women, and yes, some men, is a freaking epidemic. You have a dozen outside seminar speakers a year. Fly a science person in who has publicly discussed their experiences and ask them to give two talks. One on their work and one on harassment. Make the one on harassment mandatory. I hate mandatory things, but do it anyway. And then pay them four times your normal honorarium. It’s called the ‘I have done a lot of heavy lifting for science’ tax. Pay it.

Good job people.

Let’s use the comment section for more actionable items you can do this week.

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1 Comment

So, here’s the infographic on the NAS’s specific recommendations for those of us without the attention span for a 310 page report. Of these, 1 and 4 look like lip-service topics (eg, you can say you’re doing them without doing them), 2 seems like it ain’t happening (it requires funding), and 3 seems like wishful thinking. 2 – changing the power dynamic – is the important one, and that requires money.(note – just realized you can’t add pictures in the comments, so here’s a link).

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