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Report details persistent hostility to women in science

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Science  15 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6394, pp. 1159
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6394.1159

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A groundbreaking report on sexual harassment from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, released on 12 June, says that deep-seated, cultural change is needed to curb widespread sexual harassment of women in science. And it lays responsibility for making that change largely at the feet of leaders at academic institutions. The report says sexual harassment continues to hobble careers or even drive women from their fields—despite protective laws that have been in place for decades. To bend this curve, it says, universities need to take active measures—like transparently reporting the number of complaints they get and investigations they have underway—and insulating students by having committees advise them, to prevent them from falling under the power of a single, harassing mentor. Two years in the making, the report describes pervasive and damaging "gender harassment"—belittling behaviors intended to make women feel they don't belong, including sexist comments and demeaning jokes. In large surveys conducted at 36 campuses by two big university systems—the University of Texas and Pennsylvania State University—up to 50% of female students said they had experienced this kind of harassment, with medical students affected at the highest rates.