How You Can Help Fight Sexual Harassment and Discrimination in Science Right Now

Yesterday, many of our friends and peers started sharing a simple message on social media: “me, too.” The message is from anyone who has faced sexual harassment and sexual assault. If it wasn’t clear already, sexual violence, especially sexual violence against women, is rampant. 500 Women Scientists is committed to fighting harassment in science and empowering women and their allies with tools and resources to fight back.

To everyone who has faced sexual violence and discrimination, we want to say this:

We hear you. We believe you. We see you. We’re here to help. And we’re calling on all of our colleagues, especially our male allies, to listen, step up, and help.

When it comes to sexual harassment and sexual assault in science, the evidence is clear. Seventy-one percent of women field researchers have received inappropriate sexual remarks and 26 percent reported experiencing sexual assault. In the field of astronomy, 40 percent of women of color report feeling unsafe in their workplace as a result of their gender and 28 percent as a result of their race. In the last two years alone, high profile cases of sexual violence have been reported in astronomy, biology, entomology, linguistics, geology, immunology, paleoanthropology, and physics.

This culture drives women out of science. And despite our desire to be objective and neutral, the evidence is also clear that men often ignore the evidence of gender discrimination in our own ranks.

  1. Listen to women. Believe women. Share the evidence. This is not the time to tell women in your field that “not all men” are violent or sexist. We know. The problem is that most men are silent in the face of the ongoing violence against their female peers and their silence makes them complicit. If you want to be an ally, don’t just express your sympathy, demonstrate your allyship by speaking out and supporting women. Educate other men about sexual violence in our field — the numbers don’t lie.

We will update this list with more ideas and resources.

We stand in solidarity.

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