In DepthQ&A

Shining a light on sexual harassment in astronomy

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Science  23 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6259, pp. 364-365
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6259.364

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The field of astronomy has been reeling since one of its most prominent members, exoplanet pioneer Geoff Marcy, was found guilty of sexually harassing female students at the University of California, Berkeley, over a decade. The university did not publish the results of its 6-month investigation, triggered by complaints from four former students, and it simply admonished Marcy to change his behavior. But a 9 October article in the online publication BuzzFeed and pressure from Berkeley students and faculty as well as the wider astronomy community persuaded Marcy to resign from his Berkeley professorship and other positions. Astronomer Joan Schmelz, former chair of the American Astronomical Society's (AAS's) Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy, talks to Science about her role in bringing the case to light and how the field can move forward.