Sexual Harassment in Engineering
- Gilda A. Barabino, Dean and Daniel and Frances Berg Professor, The Grove School of Engineering, The City College of New York
- Alec D. Gallimore, Robert J. Vlasic Dean of the College of Engineering, U-M
- Allison Steiner, Associate Professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, College of Engineering, U-M
In 2016, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine assembled a committee to conduct a study on the impact of sexual harassment in academia on the career advancement of women in the scientific, technical, and medical workforce. The committee published a comprehensive report titled, "Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine," in June 2018. Three University of Michigan faculty members served as panel members on this report: Prof. Lilia Cortina (Psychology and Women’s Studies), Prof. Anna Kirkland (Women’s Studies), and Prof. Timothy Johnson (Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Studies). The report identifies key findings on the causes and impacts of sexual harassment, and recommendations for institutional policies, strategies, and practices to address and prevent it.
Preventing and effectively addressing sexual harassment of women in colleges and universities has remained a challenge for decades. More than half of women faculty and staff report having been harassed. Student surveys of university systems show disturbingly similar rates, with 20–50% of women students experiencing sexually harassing behavior perpetrated by faculty or staff.
Persistent sexual harassment in STEM fields, and its adverse impacts on women’s careers, jeopardizes progress in closing the gender gap, damages research integrity, and results in a costly loss of talent. Academic sciences, engineering, and medicine share characteristics that create conditions for harassment, but many findings of the report are not limited to STEM field settings. Other fields within academia can be similarly male-dominated, hierarchical work and learning settings in which abusive cultures may form. Such environments can silence and limit the career opportunities for both the targets of the sexual harassment and bystanders, causing both men and women to leave their fields.
This panel will include co-authors of the National Academies report alongside faculty from the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering. The panel will include a summary of the report, discussion from the report’s co-authors, commentary from disciplinary experts, and Q&A with the audience.
The panel will offer broad discussion of use to any member of the university community or the public interested in sexual harassment in academia. A reception will follow.