A two-year study recently concluded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine indicates that sweeping changes are necessary to deal with harassment of employees at American universities. The study, commissioned prior to the #MeToo movement, identifies three types of harassment: sexual coercion, unwanted sexual attention, and gender harassment. Gender harassment is most prevalent in academia and is defined as verbal and nonverbal behaviors that belittle women.
The report offers 15 recommendations that change current paradigms in education such as prosecuting individuals instead of institutions for illegal behaviors, ensuring future employers know of an individual’s misconduct whereas today the behaviors are buried under confidentiality rules, and reevaluating relationships between junior and senior researchers who are dependent on one person for grant allocations and advancement. The report also cites inadequate reporting and prevention processes that need to be revamped.
Changes will take years to implement; however, they are necessary since academic workplaces are second only to the military in the rate of sexual harassment. The report cites a source indicating 58% of academic employees are victims of some form of sexual harassment. If you or a loved one has experienced harassment in the workplace, please contact the sexual assault attorneys at Sauder Schelkopf.