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Credit: AGU

The strong stand taken by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) against harassment and for inclusivity and safety in our fields will become highly visible at the 2016 Fall Meeting next week. Since holding a town hall at last year’s Fall Meeting in response to high-profile sexual harassment cases in science, AGU has shown commitment and leadership on this issue.

At the upcoming meeting, many AGU staff volunteers will wear large green “SafeAGU” buttons. Posters and digital signage will appear throughout the meeting, delivering antiharassment messages. In addition, nine planned events on responding to harassment and workplace climate will occur, including workshops for various audiences, technical sessions, a town hall, and informal Pod discussions.

As a part of AGU’s SafeAGU effort, the organization has also launched a Thunderclap campaign on social media to create awareness and foster a community of support around the issue. Leading up to Fall Meeting, supporters can sign on to show their support for a safe and inclusive scientific community.

Many individuals have already signed on, and AGU encourages all social media users to join in and demonstrate support. A widespread message, “Be an ally in promoting a harassment-free environment for all scientists. I support a #SafeAGU! #AGU16,” will be shared across all supporters’ social media networks this Sunday, 11 December, as AGU kicks off its 49th Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

Building on Previous Steps Taken

AGU takes harassment in the sciences very seriously. The Fall Meeting visibility campaign and social media Thunderclap are but two of many ways in which AGU is ensuring that the scientific community is a safe, inclusive place for everyone.

The Fall Meeting visibility campaign and social media Thunderclap are but two of many ways in which AGU is ensuring that the scientific community is a safe, inclusive place for everyone.

Earlier this year, a task force was created to make recommendations and updates to the AGU ethics policy around workplace climate and harassment. In September, with support from many partner organizations and funding from the National Science Foundation, AGU convened a workshop that brought together more than 60 scientific society heads, leaders in academia, and government officials to discuss sexual and gender-based harassment and develop a set of guiding principles.

In these efforts, AGU has affirmed that scientific societies should lead by example and be trusted resources for members to obtain needed information and support. Moving beyond talk, the scientific community must work together on many fronts. These include sharing best practices, updating codes of conduct, and encouraging and facilitating further conversations, forums, and publication of articles. It must also offer support and guidance to victims and bystanders and to leaders in our communities.

Every locale for doing and learning science, from field camps to national meetings, should be one that is unquestionably safe and welcoming. The Earth and space science community—as men and women, as senior and early-career scientists, as private- and public-sector leaders—has a great opportunity to unify around this topic to create a culture that encourages and enables all scientists.

To learn more about AGU’s efforts, find resources, and read further articles about harassment, visit AGU’s Stop Harassment website.

—Eric Davidson (email:, President-Elect, AGU


Davidson, E. (2016), Moving forward at Fall Meeting against harassment, Eos, 97, Published on 09 December 2016.

Text © 2016. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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