Oakland, CA—June 27, 2018
A new report issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine finds that the prevalence of sexual harassment remains pervasive, largely unchanged, and that academic institutions need to make sweeping changes in the way they deal with the issue.
"The report is rooted in evidence, which makes it different from other studies," said Mills College President Elizabeth L. Hillman, one of the committee members who co-authored the report, titled Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Hillman told KQED’s Brian Watt, “If there’s a lack of institutional commitment. If leaders don’t seem to notice and if it seems to be tolerated then harassment is more likely to occur.”
Also recently quoted in the New York Times, Hillman said, “There are more women in these fields, yet there’s still sexual harassment.”
“What we have done so far is essentially added women to science, engineering, and medicine without changing the institutional climate to make them welcome and successful,” Hillman told BuzzFeed News.
One study cited in the report noted that academic workplaces are second only to the military in the rate of sexual harassment, with 58 percent of academic employees indicating they had such experiences.
“I don’t feel hopeless,” Hillman told Scientific American, “I feel there is actually meaningful action we can take from this. It’s not a single policy we can announce where everything will be fine, but it is entirely possible to change and the steps to get there are pretty clear.”
The 311-page report outlines 13 recommendations to prevent further occurrences, ranging from the importance of "creating diverse, inclusive, and respectful environments" to focusing on bystander intervention. Based on the wide range of organizations studied, Hillman told Education Dive she has "high faith" that the recommendations are not exclusive to the sciences and "could be put into play in a wide variety of environments."