27 February 2018
WASHINGTON, DC—Earlier today AGU Executive Director and CEO Chris McEntee delivered testimony before the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology during a hearing entitled “A review of Sexual Harassment and Misconduct in Science.” In her testimony, McEntee discussed AGU’s recently revised ethics policy that defines harassment, discrimination and bullying as scientific misconduct.
“Sexual harassment in the sciences destroys not only the lives of the victims but damages the entire scientific enterprise. I commend the Subcommittee on Research and Technology for calling a hearing to highlight the gravity of the issue and explore how to improve the scientific community,” said Chris McEntee. “Yet this is only one step towards desperately needed culture change. AGU is strongly committed to leading on this topic and stands ready to work with the community and with legislators to bring about change.”
During her testimony, McEntee discussed why AGU revised its own ethics policy and applauded other scientific institutions for putting their own strong policies on harassment in place, including the NSF for a newly proposed policy that requires grantee institutions to report harassment violations.
McEntee also proposed recommendations including clear and transparent reporting and follow-up procedures with consequences; ensuring individuals who feel harmed are able to report and speak out without fear of retribution; and trainings that go beyond legal compliance and will encourage appropriate bystander intervention and culture change. McEntee promoted positive approaches that could include awards and certifications to recognize scientific or academic institutions for their progress. In addition, McEntee said in her testimony that “…legislation can be a powerful incentive and should include both positive and punitive measures to hold harassers accountable and encourage a safer, more inclusive environment for all scientists.”
AGU adopted its revised ethics policy in September 2017 after more than a year of work by the organization’s Ethics Task Force, as well as discussions with AGU leadership and members. AGU’s ethics policy sets robust expectations for accepted behavior in the Earth and space science community. The policy is much stronger on harassment by including it in the definition of research misconduct and expanding its application to all AGU-sponsored programs and activities including AGU Honors and Awards.
The American Geophysical Union is dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs. AGU is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization representing 60,000 members in 137 countries. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our other social media channels.