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Congress Addresses Sexual Harassment in the Sciences

April 24th, 2018

Delaware County sexual harassment lawyers assist victims of workplace sexual harassment in the sciences.Sexual harassment takes places in all types of workplaces, including those in the field of science. While working in a male dominated science field, female students and post doctorate candidates can be especially vulnerable to sexual harassment.  Workplaces in the science field, such as field camps, laboratories, or observatories can be remote locations without safe havens for sexual harassment victims.  Female scientists often feel unsupported and unable to report incidents of sexual harassment due to fear of losing competitive laboratory internships and research opportunities.

Some of the most common complaints of sexual harassment filed by female scientists include:

  • Unwanted comments of a sexual nature
  • Inappropriate texts
  • Missed promotions
  • Direct physical assaults, including rape
  • Sabotaged lab equipment
  • Spreading of rumors
  • Hazing type behaviors
  • Assignment of menial jobs
  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Isolation from other male scientists

Federal Research Funding

Scientific research can be a lucrative pursuit for universities who benefit from federal research funding. Many research labs employ a significant number of young scientists. Tenured faculty members who conduct research by bringing in federal research grant money are often protected by universities who may fear the loss of federal funds, and prestige and international recognition that accompanies federally funded laboratories.

Congress recently took a step to address sexual harassment of female scientists by urging more protection by national universities and federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Led by Representative Barbara Comstock of Virginia, a House of Representatives subcommittee held hearings last month on the lack of protections for female scientists. Congressional testimony highlighted the need to protect female scientists from both sexual harassment and the retaliation that can occur when the victim of sexual harassment speaks up about the abuse. Without better protections for female scientists, members of Congress fear that more women will leave the fields of science and technology.

Guidelines Set to Change

Just this past February, the National Science Foundation updated its agency guidelines to stress that sexual harassment would not be tolerated within the agency. The agency is now requiring universities to report the number of sexual harassment complaints received about scientists funded by the agency. Principal investigators who violate NSF’s new code of conduct will be replaced by the agency.

Congress expects to introduce new legislation with respect to sexual harassment in the science field after their investigation and hearings are completed later this year.

Delaware County Sexual Harassment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Assist Victims of Workplace Sexual Harassment

If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation. The Delaware County sexual harassment lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. aggressively work to protect the rights of workplace sexual harassment victims. With an office conveniently located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we represent individuals throughout the surrounding areas. To schedule your free initial consultation today, call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online.

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