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Majority of Scientists Report Sexual Harassment on the Field

Posted on in Employment

Even scientists are not completely immune from the threat of sexual harassment. According to a new study, many scientists, or 64%, reported having personally experienced incidents of sexual harassment, while they were working on a site.

It gets worse. Approximately 22% reported that they were victims of sexual assault when on the site. The survey involved only scientists who were engaged in field research. A majority of the persons reporting the harassment were female. The vast majority of students reporting harassment and abuse were also students or postdocs.

In the case of female students, the perpetrator of the harassment was likely to be a superior and not a colleague or peer. According to surveyors, this sexual harassment and abuse is much more likely to occur when females are trainees, and are at their most vulnerable.

The findings are based on a survey involving 666 scientists, most of them in the fields of anthropology and archaeology. The numbers are alarming because they seem to be higher than the general statistics for harassment in other fields. Approximately 50% of all women report that they have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace at some point during their careers.

However, the field sites offer more opportunities for harassment or assault. On a typical site, a female researcher is very far from home, and working in close proximity to superiors and peers, who are often male. The lines between work and personal lives are very often unclear while working on the field, and the researchers believe that this probably contributes to such incidents of harassment.

What is worse is that the problem seems to be a neglected one. Less than 50% of the respondents in the survey said that they had ever come across any kind of code of conduct, or official sexual harassment policy at field sites. Generally, people believe that whatever happens on a site, stays on the site.

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