Science Policy & Funding AGU News

Leading Societies Come Together to Address Harassment in STEMM

AGU and other leaders in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) community will work to advance professional and ethical conduct across their fields.

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Built on the idea that professional societies—such as AGU—are standard setters for the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) fields and that in this role they have a unique responsibility for combating issues such as sexual and gender harassment, an important new partnership was launched today: the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM.

The consortium was established by AGU, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), but its reach is much broader. With an executive committee that comprises AGU, AAAS, AAMC, the American Chemical Society, the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Physical Society, the American Society for Cell Biology, the Entomological Society of America, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; policy and law consultation from the EducationCounsel; and more than 50 member societies to date, the consortium is already positioned to be a transformative voice in STEMM.

“While AGU, and many others, have been working independently to make a difference in areas of harassment, bias, and discrimination, this consortium will allow us to collectively use our voice, as leaders of the international science community, to truly transform the workplace culture in ways that allow all to thrive,” said Billy Williams, vice president for ethics, diversity, and inclusion at AGU. “This work will have an immeasurable impact not just on science, but on its ability to drive the next 100 years of innovations, discoveries, and solutions. We enrich discovery and innovation and strengthen our science when a diverse set of voices feel encouraged and supported in sharing their perspectives and ideas.”

“This consortium provides both leadership for a broad diversity of our societies’ collective voices and actions to advance ethics, equity, inclusion, and excellence in STEMM research, education, and practice,” said Shirley Malcom, senior adviser at AAAS.

“Combating sexual harassment in academic medicine and across the STEMM fields requires a multipronged, ongoing, and sustained approach,” said David Acosta, MD, chief diversity and inclusion officer at AAMC. “The Societies Consortium will help our organizations—and in turn, our respective member institutions—see across the landscape of STEMM as we work together to develop the strategy and tools needed to foster a more inclusive learning and workplace environment.”

“Consortium members are saying loudly and clearly that we need the best scientific output of all talent in STEMM, if these fields are to maximize their potential to drive innovation, economic strength and security, benefiting society across the nation and around the world,” said Jamie Lewis Keith, a partner at EducationCounsel. “And, they stress, that success depends on fully inclusive settings in which all professionals and students are treated with respect.”

Initially, the group will focus on the societies’ honors and awards operations. Given the important role these programs play in everything from professional development to public outreach, the consortium will work to develop model policies and procedures that can help to improve diversity and inclusion and ensure professional and ethical conduct. Ultimately, the group hopes to provide practical research- and evidence-based resources that are informed by social and behavioral science and are applicable to the consortium’s member societies’ own operations.

The consortium is the latest addition to a growing list of efforts AGU is undertaking to build a diverse, inclusive, welcoming, and supportive workforce and workplace—all of which has particular resonance during our Centennial. On 12 February 2019, AGU launched the Ethics and Equity Center. A new hub for comprehensive resources and tools designed to support our community across a range of topics linked to ethics and workplace excellence, the center provides resources to individual researchers, students, department heads, and institutional leaders to promote leading practices on issues ranging from building inclusive environments, to scientific publications and data management, to combating harassment, to example codes of conduct. The center is an outgrowth of the update of AGU’s Scientific Integrity and Professional Ethics Policy in September 2017. In the wake of high-profile cases alleging sexual harassment in the sciences, the updated policy was one of the first steps AGU took to address ongoing issues within the Earth and space science community that have a profound impact in the workplace and on scientists’ individual lives and careers.

—Joshua Speiser ([email protected]), Manager of Strategic Communications, AGU

Citation: Speiser, J. (2019), Leading societies come together to address harassment in STEMM, Eos, 100, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EO116461. Published on 15 February 2019.
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