Policy ForumDiversity and Inclusion

Leadership to change a culture of sexual harassment

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Science  27 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6485, pp. 1430-1431
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb5791

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Summary

When we look at surveys of the scientific community, we see an overall trend: The presence of women, minorities, and other groups that have been historically subject to harassment tapers off in later career stages. This occurs despite those groups' strong interest and proficiency in science and engineering. As a primary public funding resource for science and engineering research and training, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has a responsibility to address such deficiencies. Shaping the research landscape is a strategic process that normally requires planning on the order of decades, but this is an issue that requires more immediate leadership and action. How, then, does an agency like NSF—which has considerable influence but limited direct authority—work with the community and other institutions to implement change on issues that cannot wait? The case of NSF's work to combat harassment in the science community, a persistent problem for decades that remains shockingly widespread, is illustrative.

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